Two Stories, One Joined Path
Inspired by true events and set in the heart of a racially divided America in 1965, I Am The Night is a methodically paced, character driven drama. While there’s not much in the way of plot development during this opening episode, what we do get is a good amount of set-up and characterisation leading to a final 10 minutes that set the stage for what’s to come.
The episode itself is essentially split between two separate characters; investigative reporter Jay and mixed race teenager Fauna. Fauna really forms the crux of the story here and after introducing her family life and love interest, her world is turned upside down by a startling discovery. After confronting her melodramatic mother on the matter, things escalate which leads Fauna to tracking down her Grandfather. An uncomfortable phone call then ensues where he convinces her to come visit, leading Fauna to pack up her stuff and leave home.
Nestled around this story are bites of plot development with Jay, who spends most of the episode investigating a case which leads him to the same hospital Fauna works at. After being thrown out and his camera destroyed, a chance phone call sets him on the same path as Fauna, closing out the episode on an intriguing note.
The general tone and thematic structure of the show is a little slow paced though and this certainly won’t be a miniseries for everyone. While there have been better crafted crime thrillers in this genre, including Sharp Objects and Save Me, the authentic dialogue and fleshed out characters do go someway to alleviate the flaws.
The cinematography and aesthetic of the show are pretty impressive too. From the use of blues and yellow during the later parts of the episode through to the competent editing and smooth camera work, I Am The Night is technically competent although not quite hitting the same standard as HBO in this department.
The acting is generally decent too, with both Chris Pine and India Eisley playing their respective roles really well indeed. I’ve said it for a while now that Chris Pine is one of those actors who really deserves a role like this and armed with decent range and charisma, he really excels here. The only downside here is Fauna’s mother, who does have a tendency to overact her lines. Thankfully it doesn’t detract too much from the overall quality of the show and on the whole there’s some good acting on display.
It’a always difficult to gauge how these sort of mini-series’ will fare after such a slow-paced opening and little in the way of plot development. In terms of aesthetic, camera work and general cinematography, I Am The Night is certainly visually competent but whether it can back this up with a compelling plot going forward is anyone’s guess. This one might take a few episodes to get going but given the ending we receive, hopefully it won’t be too long before we get some serious plot development to chew through.