The memory and emotional toll of family violence hangs over every frame and the main relationships of Night Comes On. The two black sisters, ten year old Abby (Tatum Marilyn Hall) and living in foster care, and soon to turn eighteen Angel (Dominique Fishback), a rebellious teen turned delinquent and now out on parole, are suffering the societal, emotional and mental effects of their father murdering their mother in a fit of rage.
Reunited the two sisters try to find solace in their shared memories of their mother, what is left of their sororal bond and their jangled views of how they see and deal with their father. Abby just wants to move on and live with Angel, while Angel, who recently purchased a gun, wants some modicum of justice and revenge.
The details of the father’s crime are never shown just compiled from loose spoken dialogue and an emotional impressionism between the two daughters that builds to a partial reconciliation and the sad realization that they are fated to a life apart from each other.
Directors Jordana Spiro and Angela Nwandu, on whose experiences Night Comes On is based, tell the story with a subtlety that requires good actors to make it truthful and emotionally immediate. Dominique Fishback as Angela delivers an aching and heartfelt performance full of hidden emotional layers that briefly erupt into pain and anger. Tatum Marilyn Hall provides enough restraint to make the on screen moments she shares with Fishback believable.
Night Comes On is a quiet film with a lot of emotional power. It is like the tide before a big wave crests.