Film Review: Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington Nearly Save ‘Night Catches Us’

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No votes yet Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “They’re all around us. Ghosts. They’re everywhere.” People don’t talk like that. Especially kids. Especially not after a major revelation about their dad. It just doesn’t feel real. And that’s the problem with “Night Catches Us,” a well-intentioned drama with strong performances that somehow can’t find the realism at the heart of its story. Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington nearly rescue the piece but it just doesn’t come together into anything memorable enough to recommend.

“Night Catches Us” is one of those films that yet again prove the dictum that movies are not the sum of their parts. If you pull apart “Night Catches Us,” there are elements that work including a strong cast led by two of the best young actors working today, a refreshingly lyrical directorial style, and great music supervision by The Roots. But the script never finds its footing, caught between personal stories and sociopolitical statements. It’s far from a mess of a film but one that never connects the dots.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Night Catches Us” in our reviews section.

In 1976, a few years after the peak of the Black Power movement but at a time when racial tension was still high and wounds still fresh, former Black Panther Marcus (Anthony Mackie) returns home to Philadelphia after the death of his father. Marcus clearly comes with some baggage of history as the Panthers still in his hometown look at him as a snitch and openly antagonize him for his actions in the death of one of their own. The widow of the dead man, Patricia (Kerry Washington) doesn’t hold the same negative feelings for Marcus but clearly sees him as a reminder of a past that she’d like to bury. There are feelings between Marcus and Patricia that make leaving the past behind even harder to do.

Of course, we never fully leave the past behind, especially when the issues that inspired the movement in the first place are still in place. So, while Tanya Hamilton tells the story of Marcus and Patricia handling their personal issues, the racial tension in Philadelphia continues to simmer and leads to a violent climax.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Night Catches Us” review.

“Night Catches Us” stars Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Tariq Trotter, Jamie Hector, Amari Cheatom, Jamara Griffin, and Wendell Pierce. It was written and directed by Tanya Hamilton. It is rated R and runs 90 minutes. It opens in Chicago on December 10th, 2010.

Night Catches Us
Night Catches Us
Photo credit: Sony Pictures

kc0jqz's picture


I disagree totally. Tanya, you hit it on the mark girl.I could FEEL every scene. I thought the movie showed how unforgiving can hold you is the past. The unpoisoned mind of a child is why they can speak so earnest. And the movie also showed what can happen when a person has a poison mind. I love the fumblingness of Anthony and Patricia’s first kiss, it seemed so natural. TANYA HAMILTON, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

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