Just knowing a film played Sundance is usually enough to make me feel like I’m back in the mountains, and some films are so Sundance they spread Sundance wherever they go. Night Comes On is one of those films.
Right from the beginning, Night Comes On captures Angel (Dominique Fishback)’s point of view as the impersonal system decides what’s best for her. Adults off camera ask presumptive questions about her family situation and seem surprised that everything they take for granted isn’t true for her.
As Angel tries to rebuild her life after getting out of juvenile detention, Night Comes On shows the challenges women in Angel’s situation face which many of us take for granted. Getting a job, despite her willingness to work, means tolerating abusive authority because the alternative is destitution.
Some of the people Angel is trying to reach can’t call her back because they’re out of minutes. They just catch up eventually, which is the patience people have when they can’t afford an unlimited plan.
Night Comes On is mostly a slice of life about the relationships between sisters, between girlfriends, even between strangers on a bus. Angel and her sister Abby (Tatum Marilyn Hall) take a bus trip to seek out their estranged father during which they confront more personal demons than they may have intended to.
These characters are utterly believable. Mainly Angel and Abbie, who are our focus, and give Fishback and Hall the sort of vehicles most actors dream of. But also the father (John Jelks) and people they meet in their travels feel like real people who aren’t trying to show off how real they are. They’re just living.
Co-writer/director Jordana Spiro is able to create this showcase. It’s gritty enough to feel real, but with the sure footed competence and confidence to belong in theaters.
There is a lingering threat of violence throughout Night Comes On. Angel buys a gun for protection and imagines using it for revenge. It’s not salacious, but the film never lets you forget it either.
Every year people go to Sundance hoping to discover some new, emerging voices in cinema. Night Comes On represents many voices, from Spiro and co-writer Angelica Nwandu’s to stars Fishback and Hall’s.
Night Comes On is now playing in theaters and on VOD.
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