Night Comes On details two days in the impossibly difficult life of Angel (Dominique Fishback) as she’s released from juvenile detention on her 18th birthday. A bravura performance from Dominique Fishback brought this film to vivid life.
Night Comes On starts with Angel catching a bus outside the detention center. Her first stop is the see her Parole Officer (James McDaniel). He tells her all the ways she can break parole and land back in jail. She just wants to know her father’s address. When he checks her file, he realizes her father killed her mother and served 6 years in prison for the murder. He won’t tell her the address.
Angel uses what little money she possesses to get a pistol. We see flashbacks of her childhood and realize she saw her father kill her mother. She’s planning to kill him.
Angel goes to see her 10 year old sister Abby (Tatum Marilyn Hall). Abby is in foster care. She’s outgoing, friendly, and wise beyond her years. Abby knows where their father lives. Abby won’t tell Angel where it is. She says she’ll have to go with her to show her the way.
They end up at the beach, a surprise birthday outing scheme by Abby. It’s a reminder of their mother’s love and happier days. They get to know each other again during their experiences that day and we see Angel remember how much she cares about her little sister. There’s beautiful chemistry between them, even when they fight. Tatum Marilyn Hall is a gifted young actress.
By now Angel has broken many rules set by her P.O. She ignores his calls. When night comes on, Abby admits she knows where their dad is. Angel gets Abby home and walks to confront her father.
I won’t tell you what happens there. The last act of the film is moving and beautiful but also scary because you know Angel’s two days of freedom have set her in motion to get arrested again.
Themes of family and love are as important as the revenge on Angel’s agenda.
The economy used to show how difficult it is to be Black, with no money, and no support is stunning. For example, the P.O. officer tells Angel to bring a photo ID to a job interview he’s arranged. When she says she doesn’t have one he tells her to take her birth certificate to the DMV and get one. She doesn’t have that either. He just stares at her, out of ideas, and warns her to follow the rules.
Another example. The girls befriend some other kids on the bus. They go to one girl’s house – a Black girl. Angel is stunned by the life that is possible when there is a supportive family, a home, food, moms with cars. The contrast to her own life is vivid.
The film was directed by Jordana Spiro, an actress making her first feature film as a director. Jordana Spiro and Angelica Nwandu wrote the film. Jordana Spiro’s skills as a director are brilliant. I hope to see many more films directed by her.
Here’s the preview. The film is available on Netflix, or for rent on Prime Video.
I recommend Night Comes On. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you watch it.