The Night Of (DVD)
Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017
I was swept away by this miniseries. Not fully knowing what to expect, the first episode traps you in an engaging story of anxiety and murder. The set-up feels like the first half of The Stranger by Albert Camus. Every detail, small or otherwise, will be taken into account in later episodes that depict the trial of one of the protagonists.
The show is spearheaded by John Turturro who plays criminal court attorney John Stone. Stone can be described as an "ambulance chaser" but clearly has a soft spot for people in general and his family specifically. His struggles with eczema mirror the intensity of his life and brings out a humanizing quality that makes you ache, wince, and root for his success. Turturro's performance is a force and every single scene he is in is lifted by his presence.
The writers leave lots of room for other actors and characters to excel too. Riz Ahmed (Rogue One) plays Nasir "Naz" Khan, a young student that goes from one wild serendipitous night to what is sure to be a lifetime of wounds needing to heal. The character of Naz is frustrating in all the proper ways. You root for him, you hate him, you believe him, you distrust him, you want to yell at him for his decisions during the trial but still slope your shoulders low when you think about all that he has endured. When Stone takes Naz on as a client, you can see Stone has every intention of helping Naz, even in more subtle ways, and yet Naz makes choices to survive in prison that infuriate you as a viewer. Even Naz’s last scene leaves you conflicted as he reflects on the past while darkening his future.
Then you realize Michael K. Williams (The Wire) is in the show playing a longtime prison kingpin Freddy Knight and you know you are in good hands. Knight mentors Naz in the ways of survival and the actor’s previous characters cast a long shadow that makes his menacing reign over people even more believable. The rest of the cast carries their weight and then some. We are treated with delightful exchanges between John Turturro and underrated actor Fisher Stevens in multiple pharmacy scenes.
The Night Of will take you on a journey from the seemingly innocent decisions to have a fun time to the inciting incident of that fateful "night of" and all the way to contested court scenes and scary prison decisions. The Night Of is a powerful series about decisions, perceptions, and consequences and great for fans of Law & Order, The Wire, True Detective, and other crime series.