Pendance Film Festival 2019: Our Review of ‘To The Night’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, Pendance 2019 by - February 03, 2019
Pendance Film Festival 2019: Our Review of ‘To The Night’

Caleb Landry Jones does his best to subvert the ‘destructive artist’ stereotype as Norman, the protagonist in To The Night. Norman isn’t completely helpless, stepping in and helping others within his Brooklynite artist hipster set. One of his said unofficial charges is Andi (Christos Haas), who has his own unexplained problems. Watching these moments between Norman and Andi are great. That’s especially true since Jones and Haas flesh out a distinct language that their characters share. There are also authentic moments when Norman seems happy, and it’s not just when he’s with Andi. His wife Penelope (Eleonore Hendricks) gets a share of that joy too.

Nonetheless, there’s something frustrating about watching characters who are ineffective at being each other’s support systems. Their presence might even be outright toxic to each other. Norman needs the most help, since he’s dealing with memories of childhood trauma. Yup, it’s one of those movies. And yes, artists, just like human beings, can be messy, but the movie relies too heavily on that idea. The ‘messy artist’ comes a once in a generation but they get more play than the ones who can keep it together. If anything, this film glamorizes what happens to Norman.

It doesn’t help that the visuals in this film lack some much needed inspiration, save a nightmare sequence or other scenes with neon lighting. These scenes are supposed to highlight and reinforce Norman’s torment, but all they do is remind audience how under-directed and under-cooked this character study actually is. It’s sad to see a lot of work from all of the people who involved themselves into this production. And that’s because all it leads to is some misery porn with characters yelling at each other. There’s no forward momentum here and its premise doesn’t really lead to anything.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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