Movie Review - Night Comes On

Not only is this a film about a young African-American woman told from the perspective of a young African-American woman. It is one of those perfect, little films. It's an independent production that is amazingly written, directed and acted. It's a simple, character story that's so well done. It makes you wonder why all films aren't as good. It also makes you wonder why more films about African-American women aren't made and put into more theaters. It's so well done that special attention has to be given to the young African-American woman behind it all.

Angelica Nwandu is the screenwriter for this film. Nwandu is also the founder of The Shade Room, a blog about celebrity gossip, politics and black culture. What makes it unique is that The Shade Room or TSR exists mainly on Instagram but it also has its own web site. She has 15 million subscribers and she's been cited on Top 30 lists by Time and Forbes magazines. Nwandu was selected as a Time Warner HBO and Sundance Institute fellow in 2014. Those fellowships allowed her to develop this project, which she did along side Jordana Spiro, an actress on Ozark and The Mob Doctor. Spiro attended the Sundance Institute to learn directing and this film is her debut in the captain's chair.

Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give and The Deuce) stars as Angel Lamere, a black girl from Philadelphia who is about to turn 18 years old in two days, and in fact the film takes place within the space of those two days. Both she and her younger sister were in foster care. Her sister still is in foster care. Angel just got out of prison or some kind of juvenile detention center for shoplifting, drug use and possession of a handgun. The shoplifting and drug use could be chalked up to the poverty she and her sister find themselves. The handgun could possibly be explained because of her desire for revenge.

What's revealed is that the reason Angel and her sister are in foster care is due to the fact that their mother is dead and their father was in prison. The twist is that their mother was killed and the person who killed her was their father. Yet, their father was released after the charges were dropped. Angel still blames her father and her anger fuels her throughout this film. When she is released, she wants to find her father and kill him. Without making it obvious, vengeance is her objective, but she never says so. It's Spiro's direction and Fishback's performance that tells you she wants to kill him. Yet, there isn't any exposition that hits you over the head with it. It's intuited, mainly by the things she's willing to do to get her revenge, up to and including solicitation. The way her motivation is rendered visually and wordlessly is brilliant on the part of Nwandu and Spiro.

Tatum Marilyn Hall in her debut co-stars as Abby Lamere, the 10-year-old sister of Angel. Abby is a tough, little girl. She's sassy and bossy of her foster brothers. She smokes weed but she's really smart, street smart and clever enough to know her sister is out for revenge even without any words being said. Her knowing that is revealed by a single act and she even uses that knowing to bridge a connection between her and her sister.

As a whole, the film is about Angel and her connections, whether it's to her sister or to her lesbian girlfriend. It culminates in the connection she has or had with her father, the object of her anger. There are quite a few films about people in Angel's position, but probably none as young as her and barely any that are about young black girls. However, it's clear that connections are important, but focusing on building connections instead of destroying them is the overwhelming message. Building those connections come in very tender scenes of braiding hair and beach fun.

If you like this film, also check out First Match by Olivia Newman on Netflix.

Not Rated but contains language and suggestive violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 26 mins.

Available on DVD and VOD.


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