When you watch a good movie, you would come out of it entertained, thoughtful, or feeling that you have learned something new, or a combination of two or three of these. When I watched “All Day and a Night”, I came out of it feeling tired. Oh yes, it is that tiring nearly every second of its two hours. Two hours is not a long time to watch a movie but I watched this movie in five or six installments which says a lot about the movie.
The film started with a bang. A black man sneaks into an apartment occupied by a black family and waited. When the youthful father and mother return with their ten-year-old daughter, they are shocked to see this fella in their crib pointing two pistols at them. The man of the house tries to talk to the intruder but he is interrupted by a mass of gunshots. The couple lies dead. He leaves.
Now, this is not a bad way to start a movie. This grabbed my attention as I prepared to follow the shooter into his past and make sense of the murkiness that results in a man killing parents in cold blood in the presence of their underage child.
I began to suspect that the movie would live up to the average expectations of Netflix movies, which is disappointment, during the court case when the mother of the slain woman comes to the stand to talk before the murder suspect is sentenced. She makes a terrible speech that doesn’t reveal, entertain, or attract empathy. The movie went on to disappoint.
What does All Day and a Night lack?
The film lacks coherence. The fact that the film shuttles between the protagonist Jah’s life played by Jalyn Hall as a boy and Ashton Sanders as a man. The flashbacks and flashforwards were not coordinated, making it difficult for you to build any sort of relationship with the character before he is discarded for the next age. The boy Jah raps which is something he enjoys doing as he lacks aptitude for school. Then we see him robbing, then we see him in prison, then we see him making love, etc. There is no method to this madness. You can’t tell what the movie is trying to accomplish as each scene leaves you more confused than the previous one.
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The film lacks empathy. If the film wanted to show us that blacks are a creation of their volatile and poverty-infested background, it failed woefully. Written and directed by Joe Robert Cole, the film was in a hurry to show us speeding wagon and not get us on board. We watched but we didn’t bond. We see violence but there is not an iota of emphatic emotion in us. Because we didn’t understand, we don’t really know the characters. When we feel anything about the violence, it is disgust.
The move lacks depth. There are so many movies about black neighborhoods. These hood movies have guns, deaths, prison in them. What sets “All Day and a Night” apart? Nothing. What could the movie have done differently? Not a lot. To start with, the movie could have built a story that would see us grow with the characters and take sides. The story didn’t. What it does was bring on the voice of elder Jah as the narrator’s and tried to do with narrations what the movie could have shown us with actions. This tactic fell flat.
How would you rate the movie?
This movie is a missed opportunity. For those who are new to watching black movies, this is a turnoff. If you come to black movies for an epiphany, this one would disappoint you and sap you of the zeal for all-black movies. If you watch black movies solely for entertainment like Starz “Power” offered, this one will annoy you.
For people who are used to watching black movies, this one tells you that perhaps black movies have exhausted all there is to black movies, slavery, racism, violence, crime, movies that are built on the platter of suffering or as we would call it in Nigeria, sufferhead. Of course, there can be no end of talking about these subjects but “All Day and a Night” will sow that impression in you.
No matter how generous you want to be, you cannot rate this movie beyond 5 out of ten. And if you rate the movie 2, no one would call you a hater. The movie didn’t give a lot of room for generosity. There were flashes of good scenes but they are painfully too few to make a canon of good art to save it from the abyss of obscurity that it is headed to. We saw “Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood” heading towards the awful but its powerful scenes saved the day and made an Oscar winner off Brad Pitt.
I remember what I felt when I saw the poster of this movie; I had a small belief that I would watch something close to Tyler Perry’s “A Fall from Grace” in entertainment or Michael B. Jordan-starring “Just Mercy” in revelation. I was wrong.
I feel sorry for myself.
Image source: Indiewire