Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
NIGHT COMES ON
Director/ co-writer Jordana Spiro delivers the unexpected with her feature length directorial debut NIGHT COMES ON. This touching, heartfelt drama offers audiences a refreshing twist on the usual driving force of female revenge-fueled flicks. While most feature women pulsating with palpable rage at what was done solely to their individual well-being, this tale spotlights what that channeled anger and anxiety look like when the protagonist is fighting to save others as well. This revenge film with unshakable heart is an assured debut for most of those involved.
Upon being released from juvenile detention, Angel Lamere (Dominique Fishback) is a young woman about to be thrust into the deep end of adulthood on the eve of her 18th birthday. She’s got two pressing problems on her mind: busting her 10-year-old sister Abby (Tatum Marilyn Hall) out of foster care and exacting a deadly vengeance wish. When plans to stay with her girlfriend are upended, she spends the night wandering the streets, bouncing around from one location to another aimlessly. And although her weary temperament pushes her harmful obsession to the forefront of her thoughts, it also reminds her that these actions could destroy what little hope she has left in the world.
Spiro, along with co-screenwriter Angelica Nwandu, create a journey about bravery and resilience in the face of tremendous difficulty and insurmountable obstacles. It’s also a ringing tribute to sisterhood. Spiro’s aesthetic infuses the picture with a dream-like haze – most evident when Angel is bouncing from the shelter of an apartment lobby to a stranger’s late night house party. Angel’s memories of sharing a tender moment with her mother (Nastashia Fuller) provide a poignant backdrop to her emotional quest and help place us in her mindset.
For both performers, this is heady, heavy material they both pull off, crafting fully lived-in characters that feel authentic and honest. There’s pathos behind the narrative that they bring to the surface in nuanced ways. Though many of Angel’s struggles are internalized, Fishback’s formidable skill set deals in subtle restraint – making her character’s emotions buried just deep enough to pull us in. All of it plugs fluidly into Spiro’s entrancing atmospheric tension. Hall is adorable and brings both heart and levity to the escalating situations (find me a better line this year than the sassy, “Honey, you need to go buy yourself a new dress, because that’s not on fleek, unique, or any other type of word.”).
NIGHT COMES ON is now playing in theaters and available on VOD.