A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's possible, though not by any means simple, to survive even the most traumatic of childhoods through grit, determination, purpose, and, most importantly, the support of a loved one.
Positive Role Models
Angel feels responsible for Abby, even though she continually shirks taking care of her. She's considering committing a murderous act of vengeance. Abby sells prescription drugs and uses the money to bribe her foster parent, but she maintains a youthful optimism. A man murdered his wife and now feels sorry. Another man exchanges a gun for sex with a teenage girl. Adults in authority positions treat kids callously.
Violence & Scariness
John killed his wife by hitting her against the bathroom wall, a scene not shown, though we do see the woman's legs slumped over the side of a bathtub. Angel buys a gun she plans to use to avenge her mother's death. Abby accidentally shoots the gun when she finds it. Angel was said to have been molested by a foster caretaker in the past.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man who is the father of a teenage girl offers to exchange a gun for sex with another teenage girl, putting his hand down her pants. In another scene, he seems to have gotten his way when she emerges from his car with the gun. Abby gets her first period ever, and Angel helps her attach a stolen maxi-pad to her underwear in a public bathroom stall.
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"D--k." "Ass." "A--hole." "F--k." "S--t." "Bitches." "Cooch." "Goddamn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Elementary-aged children smoke weed. Abby says she's selling her prescription medications to give money to her foster parent and keep her happy. Angel advises Abby not to take the medications, which she says the foster parents give to keep kids numb to their circumstances. Angel's ex-girlfriend sells weed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Night Comes On is a sensitive film that tackles some very dark themes, but ends in a surprisingly hopeful way. The life experiences the teenage Angel and her younger sister Abby have had to endure could shock some -- murder, molestation, drugs, foster parents with nefarious intentions, hardhearted probation officers, and more. It's no wonder Angel, angry and detached, begins plotting revenge the moment she gets out of juvenile detention, trading sex for a handgun. The world, and especially adults, seem out to stop her from accomplishing anything positive. But the intelligent and bubbly Abby somehow maintains her youthful optimism and sociability, holding out hope Angel will care for her -- as she does in a scene where Abby gets her first period and Angel steals a maxi-pad and shows her how to use it. Abby is nobody's fool: she sells her prescription medications to buy off some goodwill from her foster parent and she's already smoking weed. Still, she longs for a stable home life and doesn't like it when Angel uses vulgar language like "cooch." Words like "d--k," "ass," "a--hole," "f--k," "s--t," "bitches," and "goddamn" are par for the course in Angel's world. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Actress Jordana Spiro's impressive first feature as a director offers a thoughtful and unhurried portrayal of a young woman at a critical crossroads in her life. Night Comes On deftly guides us into a dark world where kids struggle to get by despite mistreatment or neglect by adults. Spiro drops in scenes of normalcy seen through 18-year-old Angel's eyes, of what life could be like for a girl her age, and keeps coming back to the recurring sound of waves crashing, evoking a sole positive memory for Angel. Spiro also plays with camera angles in key scenes and slow motion sequences as a transition device. These techniques threaten to call too much attention to themselves, but ultimately they work to support the development of Angel's character.
Lead actress Fishback (who also stars in Netflix's Project Power) gives a convincing and sensitive performance as a teenager teetering between childhood and adulthood, between giving in to the negative forces holding her back or starting to piece her life together. When she smiles for possibly the first time in the movie and lets her hair down during a climactic scene, we realize just how tightly wound up and scarred her Angel is. We breathe a sigh of relief along with her, short-lived as it turns out. That's good storytelling, buoyed by perceptive acting.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.