Entertainment » Movies

Night Comes On

by Jason Southerland
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Aug 3, 2018
'Night Comes On'
'Night Comes On'  

An hour and ten minutes into "Night Comes On," street-smart Angel (a deeply affecting Dominique Fishback) comes face to face with her father (John Jelks), and the moment is as taut as something out of Hitchcock. Newly turned 18, Angel is a few days out of juvenile detention, hate in her heart, gun in her purse and revenge on her mind. But in between her release from juvie and finding her father, she has spent a full day searching for him at the Jersey Shore with her 10-year-old sister Abby (a warm and witty Tatum Marilyn Hall). Now, standing in the yard as her father stands on the stoop of the family house where he murdered their mother, Angel is suddenly without resolve.

"Night Comes On" makes several pit stops along the cliché highway as it drives us towards this inevitable conflict. There's Angel helping Abby with her first period, sisters getting lost and missing the bus, the talkative one sidetracking the focused one... each cliché is entirely lovely and believable on its own, but the movie overloads them into one day.

And yet, "Night Comes On" becomes something entirely fresh from the moment Angel's father says, "It's late. You want to come in?" The first two-thirds of the movie is carried on the wings of Angel's brutal, frank, honest, simple performance and its stark contrast to the extraordinary joy, innocence, and warmth of Hall's 10-year-old Abby. In Abby the film finds its optimistic center; if Angel is the product of a failed system, Abby is the hope in the face of a hard world.

The film has a similar dreamlike quality that informed "Moonlight" - there's even a powerful beach scene between the sisters - and director Jordana Spiro has similarly crafted a deep and affecting portrait of lives torn apart by senseless acts of violence. But in her feature-film debut, Spiro and co-writer Angelica Nwandu shine a light on the unique perspective and suffering of the young, black female failed by the system. "Night Comes On" is a quiet and contemplative film buoyed by stellar performances, honest storytelling, and a narrative that is all too common in America today.

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