“Hopeless is a lie.” Jesse Moss’ specific yet elusive, moving observational portrait of a pastor in the fracking-wracked North Dakota oil boom town of Williston demonstrates the limits of community in the face of insurgent need: it’s nothing less than a nonfiction latter-day “The Grapes of Wrath” that’s both heartbreaking and urgently beautiful. “The Overnighters” is the name Lutheran pastor Jay Reinke gives the emigrants who arrive by the busload, broken yet driven men who change the face of the small prairie town. Winner of a Special Jury Prize for “Intuitive Filmmaking” at Sundance 2014, “The Overnighters” is rich with hope and rife with despair, going in as many unexpected directions as life can offer. T. Griffin’s score is elemental to the melancholy of Moss’ mosaic of men in need: it’s as layered as the rest of the assured, brilliant, compassionate filmmaking. 102m. (Ray Pride)
“The Overnighters” opens Friday, November 14 at Siskel. The trailer is below.
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.