A “blast to the 1970s past comes from “Night Catches Us,” the strong feature debut of Tanya Hamilton. Set in Philadelphia in the summer of 1976, the movie centers on two uneasily reunited former members of the Black Panthers, Marcus (Anthony Mackie), a recently returned wanderer, and Patricia (Kerry Washington), who stayed to nurse her wounds. Unfolding in the aftermath of the black power movement but before the mainstreaming of identity politics, the movie wonderfully weds the political to the personal. Like some of the recurrently finest selections at Sundance, this one makes sensitive use of its locations, including the wooden house where Patricia lives and, in one stunning moment that encapsulates cinema’s ability to capture loveliness in a single image, sits on her front porch in a bright orange dress.
“The theater wasn’t completely full for Ms. Hamilton’s first public screening, which was disappointing given that Mr. Mackie, who’s emerging as one of the finest actors working in American movies right now, and Ms. Washington, alone should have filled the house. (Mr. Mackie has been at the festival before, appearing in “Half Nelson.”) Sundance might be the premiere showcase for independent cinema, but it’s hard to encourage people to stray from the familiar.” (Manohla Dargis, New York Times)
A 2011 Spirit Award nominee for Best First Feature.
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