NIGHT COMES ON — Review by Cate Marquis

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Jordana Spiro, star of Netflix’s OZARK and various TV shows, makes a solid feature film directorial debut with NIGHT COMES ON, a drama about two young sisters struggling with life after the murder of their mother by their father. The drama, which premiered at Sundance, is further lifted by remarkable performances by two actresses making their big screen debuts, Dominique Fishback and Tatum Marilyn Hall. Revenge, grief, loss and the bond of sisters are themes of this gritty, unblinking drama, co-written by Spiro and Angelica Nwandu. Continue reading…

The tragedy of their mother’s murder cast the sisters adrift in a sea of social workers, foster homes and juvenile detention. The actual sea, or at least the sounds of the surf and seashore, sounds that their beloved mother remembered from her childhood is a poignant symbol of loss running through this touching drama

We first meet Angel (Fishback) as she is aging out of juvenile detention. She really has nowhere to go but she has two things on her mind: her still raw pain at the loss of her beloved mother and revenge for her death. Angel has been made cynical by rough treatment but a little wistfulness surfaces as she watches families playing in the park. She searches for her father but, buying into what she has been told, that she is a bad influence, Angel pointedly avoids her little sister 10-year-old Abby (Tatum Marilyn Hall). Abby is still a child, not yet hardened by foster care, and she wants more than anything to be back with her sister.

As the sisters, Fishback and Hall create a bond that is thoroughly believable as well as moving. As they make their way through the harsh but complex world depicted in Spiro and Nwandu’s nuanced script. Nothing is simple in this drama, all is in shades of gray and filled with complications. Their father killed their mother in a fit of rage yet he is released without charge, and when he appears, he is not as we expect.

Still, as bleak as the world appears for the sisters, the film does not go in expected directions, and their bond offers the chance for hope that does not seem on the horizon at the start. The combination of the strong lead performances, an boldly honest script and the director’s subtle hand makes this family drama worth seeking out.

motw logo 1-35EDITOR’S NOTE: Night Comes On is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for August 3, 2018.

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Cate Marquis

Cate Marquis is a film critic and historian based in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Marquis reviews film for the St. Louis Jewish Light weekly newspaper and Playback: stl website, as well as other publications. The daughter of artist Paul Marquis, she was introduced to classic and silent films by her father, as well as art and theater. Besides reviewing films, she lectures on film history, particularly the silent film era, has served on the board of the Meramec Classic Film Festival and is a long-time collaborator with the St. Louis International Film Festival, serving on various juries.