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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Night Catches Us"

"Sometimes you can't go on until you go back."
Kerry Washington has had a remarkable year. With her fantastic performances in both For Colored Girls and Mother in Child, the actress is closing the year with another riveting portrayal, this time in the historical fiction drama Night Catches Us.

With the backdrop of the Black Panther movement of the 60s and 70s, writer/director Tanya Hamilton creates a compelling drama following Marcus (played by Anthony Mackie), an ex Black Panther who fled his hometown of Philadelphia to escape his deep roots in the movement after serving a stint in jail on account of it. But word on the street has always been that he ratted out one of his cohorts, which automatically puts a target on his back and subjects him to numerous "snitching" remarks and cold stares from his once friends. Coming back to his old stomping ground has also made bad memories come flying back, which yields many sleepless nights. He wants to move forward, but he's there and can't. Nothing has changed except him. The Black Panther Party is still very much in effect, and it's even bred a whole new generation of believers.

Marcus has to decide whether to stick around in the town he once loved, or leave because it doesn't love him back. Nothing has changed, but he has. Even his old crush, Patricia (Washington), is not his "Patty" anymore. She tries to move on from a tragedy that still circles her, but doesn't realize that she too is immobile. The love they both have for the lives they once led has been shattered.

In between stunning performances from both Washington and Mackie, we see first hand black-and-white video footage of The Black Panther party, the movement, the "incidents," and the casualties (metaphorically and literally). These visuals punctuate an griping interwoven story that has become humanizes the backdrop like we have not seen much of in the past. Also worth mentioning are the fine performances also from Wendell Pierce and Jamie Hector (both from HBO's The Wire) who play a crooked cop on the wrong side, and a steadfast Black Panther, respectively; and Amari Cheatom and Jamara Griffin who play Patricia's misguided cousin and brave daughter.

Night Catches Us shouldn't be confused for something as blanket as "that black panther movie" or even a political movie, but more like a story about what it really takes to move on when you're so stuck on here.

Night Catches Us is in theaters now. Check out the trailer below:

Rating: A


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