Tanya Hamilton’s “Night Catches Us” is set in Philadelphia’s Germantown district in the hot Bicentennial summer of 1976, when ex-Black Panther Marcus Washington (Anthony Mackie, “The Hurt Locker”) returns home to make amends, including with an ex, Patty (Kerry Washington). Other characters contribute to a wide range of interpersonal sparring, largely to dramatic effect. The period depiction is impeccable, not too shabby, not too shiny, and the fine cinematography is by David Tumblety (“Sweet Land”). Told with calm and gravity, the story goes against the fashionable grain, with the past weighing heavier than the present, but it offers ample opportunity for sweetly nuanced acting, especially by Mackie. It’s also a reminder of just how many real-life stories or canny melodramas aren’t, and won’t, be told by the movies. The period score by the Roots is an exceptional contribution. With Jamie Hector, Wendell Pierce, Amari Cheatom, Jamara Griffin. 88m. (Ray Pride)
“Night Catches Us” opens Friday at ICE Chatham.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.