Angel LaMere is released from juvenile detention on the eve of her 18th birthday. Haunted by her past, she embarks on a journey with her 10-year-old sister that could destroy their future.
I never really noticed it, but passing cars on the highway can sound like waves crashing at the beach. It’s this small observation shared with Angel (Dominique Fishback) by her mother when she was a young girl. Remembering those tactics for survival, Angel begins her final morning in jail, the day of her parole hearing. She had been caught with a firearm after a string of petty crimes, leaving her younger sister, 10-year-old Abby in foster care. Years before, the two girls suffered a tragedy when their father murdered their mother. Never convicted on account of a lack of evidence, their murderous dad lives a free man. There’s plenty on Angel’s mind as she exits prison, none of it good.
“Haunted by her past, she embarks on a journey with her 10-year-old sister that could destroy their future.”
Night Comes On is the first feature film from Jordana Spiro who up to this point, was better known for her work in front of the camera on shows like Dexter and Ozark. Spiro co-writes the film with Angelica Nwandu, delivering one of the strongest female-driven narratives in recent years.
As Angel makes her way back into society, she once again picks up a gun. Envisioning a glorious revenge, she plans to find her father and gun him down, righting a wrong. Laser focused on her goal, she does everything in her power to find out where he is living. Her last resort is visiting her younger sister at her foster home in hopes of gleaning a location, thus finding her target.
Of course, nothing goes as her perfect plan for revenge dictates. Life, circumstances, and long-dormant familial connections bubble to the surface, clouding the determination and steely resolve she once had. Angel reconnects with her younger sister Abby in ways she hadn’t anticipated while trying to shield her from the realities of her plan. What unfolds is a wholly believable, organic storyline of regret, revenge, and possibly redemption.
“Spiro and…Nwandu delivering one of the strongest female-driven narratives in recent years…”
Fishback’s performance is nothing short of remarkable. Long shots place Angel alone, square in the middle of a scene. In one powerful moment, Angel rides a bus while observing a group of younger, more carefree girls. The jealousy of their innocence is palpable. Hall’s performance as younger sister Abby is a revelation of straight up moments of honesty and exacerbation. When the two finally come together in the first act of the film, there is a remarkable familial chemistry that is real and honest.
Night Comes On takes its time to focus on the inner world of its heroine, the world she shares with no one else, and lets us become familiar with her. It is done through every nuance in the filmmaking from editing to sound design. Spiro has produced a beautiful film on loss, and the cycles of violence that all too many are understandably pulled into, yet she still manages to give us a glimmer of hope in a world of desperation.
Night Comes On (2018) Directed by Jordana Spiro. Written by Jordana Spiro, Angelica Nwandu. Starring Dominique Fishback, Tatum Marilyn Hall
8 out of 10 stars