Jordan Spiro and first-time screenwriter Angelica Nwandu create a quietly effective drama with a fierce performance from Dominique Fishback. Essentially a revenge Western, her quiet intensity at the end of the film is stunning.
Not many of us know how to deal with the loss of a parent, not to mention the loss of a parent at the hand of the other. Released from juvenile detention, Angel (Dominque Fishback) sets out to realize what has kept her going inside the unforgiving child welfare system: she will kill her father.
Watching Night Comes On places you in the middle of its story, and you must pay special attention to the scenes to get a sense of where the film is going. It keeps the viewer invested enough to care without disrupting the film’s plot, even though it’s still a formulaic script after all is said and done. What elevates the film is the potent performance by Dominique Fishback as the vengeful Angel. Whether dealing with stomach-turning, middle-aged opportunists, or accepting help from a group of teenagers, her character’s focus never shifts. It is a fierce, intensely driven performance in a year chock-full of great, fully-realized female characters.
The storyline that gives the film its heart is when Angel thinks back to her mother and when she reunites with her little sister, Abby (Tatum Marilyn Hall). She is tough with her sister but loving and is the mother she never had (or can even remember). In one of the film’s best scenes, Abby asks Angel if she is coming back with her, as she is concerned she will lose her like they lost their mother. When Angel daydreams about her mother (Nastashia Fuller), the scenes between them are filled with tender regret that is too much for any child to bear.
Jordan Spiro is a television actress known mainly for a TBS comedy called My Boys to more infamous fair like The Mob Doctor. This is her directorial debut and, along with writer Angelica Nwandu (a product of the foster care system herself), she appears to purposely dial the tension back as they take their time, slowly and methodically, almost purposely, creating an underwhelming feeling that is pulled back until the film’s final Western-like confrontation. That is essentially what Night Comes On is; revenge Western, and Angel is the urban cowboy about to make things right. Fishback’s quiet intensity at the end of the film is stunning.
Night Comes On is a quietly effective drama with a fierce lead performance from Dominique Fishback. It may move too slowly for some, with its deliberate pace more akin to a novel than a film, but it ultimately offers enough of an emotional payoff to grab you and then gently let you go.