Sicilian director Francesco Calogero, whose films have been uncommercial and uneven but not uninteresting, moves into conventional genre territory with “Nightwatchman.” Despite promising ideas about the irrational behavior and alienation fostered by a lonely, stressful, nocturnal job, and a capable cast led by popular star Diego Abatantuono, this sluggish, drab-looking mystery drama is too low on atmosphere, edge and tension to have much theatrical impact.
An abrasive type constantly riding his fellow security guards, Paolo (Abatantuono) violently argues with a colleague one night, then returns later to find the man shot. The crime scene is outside the home of a beautiful Russian woman (Anna Safroncik), whom the increasingly obsessed Paolo has been spying on through her window for months. The script’s aim is to foreground the characters and their solitude rather than the standard thriller machinations. But the investigation proceeds in dull, TV-drama fashion as Paolo weeds out the squad’s corrupt elements to clear his name. Zero chemistry between Abatantuono and inexpressive Safroncik keeps the romance tepid, but aside from that, cast generally is better than the material.