The Night Of
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Blu-ray + Digital
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The Night Of (Digital HD+BD)
"A probing contemporary look at crime, the presumption of guilt and the urban prison system, The Night Of delves into the intricacies of a complex New York City murder case with compelling cultural and political overtones. Played out over the course of eight riveting hours, The Night Of offers viewers an invigorating new take on the crime-drama genre, exploring the vagaries of a single murder case through multiple, contentious points of view. Starring John Turturro as an embattled defense attorney and Riz Ahmed as his young Pakistani-American client, the story centers around the brutal murder of a young woman on Manhattan's Upper West Side, examining the initial police investigation, arrest, and imprisonment of the prime suspect – a likeable, unassuming college student who finds himself and his family thrown into the pit of NYC's criminal, legal, penal and judicial system. Meanwhile, his lawyer, an inveterate ""precinct trawler"" who lucks into the biggest case of his life, becomes entangled in a web of complicated legal maneuverings by detectives and rival attorneys that undermine his ability to try the case. Written by Steven Zaillian (Oscar®-winning writer of Schindler's List) and Richard Price (The Wire, Oscar®-nominated for the adapted screenplay of The Color of Money), The Night Of takes an unvarnished look at both the multifaceted NYC criminal-justice system and the feral purgatory of Rikers Island, where the accused await trial for felony crimes. "]]>
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And all of this is real, almost documentary real. You actually feel like what it feels to be in jail. You know what it feels like to go through the experience. I've never had that feeling before and I've watched tons of cops and robbers shows.
But the characters are what sells the show. Every character has depth that just sucked you into the story. It's like you are there in the show with them because everyone seems to real. For example (extremely minor and unimportant spoiler alert...the next line contained info that occurs in the first episode. It's not critical to the plot and will not ruin anything fro you I swear) there are two cops in the first episode. They are New York City beat cops who have very minor roles in the series. Basically someone has to make an arrest so they wrote in these two cops to do it. Yet despite their very minor status and limited screen time you learn a lot about them as individual people. They become very three dimensional even though they probably don't really need to be for story telling purposes.
You see the same thing with all the characters. One of the main characters has a skin disorder. Why? It's not integral to the plot. The story could easily survive without this element. But it makes the character more robust and makes him feel more real to the audience. Another character always listens to opera when driving. Why? Again...this adds nothing to the story, but adds a lot of depth to the character. It makes him different. Every character has something like that. Each cop has different personality and quirks that prevent them from all looking like generic background characters. Same goes for the prisoners in the jail scenes. (That's not a spoiler. It's a legal drama. You have to expect jail scenes)
Then there is the attention to detail of the legal proceedings and jail scenes. They are a little modified for entertainment purposes. (The jail is a little scarier than actual jails, but not much. I speak from experience having worked in and toured numerous jails and prisons, thankfully always as an observer and not a resident. The court scenes are a little more streamlined to make them go faster. Real court is the single most boring thing on the planet with tons and tons of procedure and document exchanges and such. It has to be sped up and streamlined a bit to make it a watchable drama.) But the overall accuracy showing how police work is conducted and what a crime scene unit does and how prosecutors care about the politics of a case and how mistakes get made, etc etc.. It's all very believable.
The writing keeps you guessing. It does not spoon feed you what actually happened in the crime up front. It leads you down many possible paths of the crime so you keep guessing. That keeps it interesting. It's not like they tell you the main character is guilty and show how he defends himself, nor does it show you the main character is innocent and then shows you how he tried exonerate himself. This one tells you the results of the crime, not the details. The rest of the series is about getting that figured out. You don't know who to believe / trust / or suspect.
Then there is the acting. Holy cow this is where the show just goes to another level. There is not a single bad actor on the show. And by 'not bad' I mean they are all fabulous. There are a few familiar faces from The Wire, including Michael Williams (Omar Little from The Wire). He is an absolutely fantastic actor. He gets type cast into a lot of roles of criminals because he's a mean looking dude due to a big scar across his face. For a non criminal role he is in a show called Hap and Leonard where he plays a southern country bumpkin type and nails it. The man can flat out act.
John Tuturro is amazing in anything he does. And I do mean anything. From The Jesus in The Big Lebowski to a goofy role like he had in the Transformers series. Here he has a very dramatic role that he brings to life. His character has so many odd quirks that it's amazing he can keep it consistent. But he does it perfectly.
Riz Ahmed is the central character of the show. I can't say too much about how he makes his character perfect without giving away important plot details. But the short version is that he makes his character grow substantially in both good and bad ways between the beginning and end of the show. Becoming a character is tough enough for an actor. Becoming a character then appropriately developing that character in response to the story so he changes with the plot is REALLY hard. Ahmed is perfect at it.
The bottom line is that this show is incredible. I had never heard of it until my wife said "Let's watch this" three days ago. Now I'm done the series. I didn't even find that it left you wanting more. It's just a well scripted 8 episodes that entertains you and stops when it should.
I'm giving The Night Of 5 Stars [rare rating for me] because the riveting plot is not quite anything we've seen, a tense suspenseful thriller in a rare original idea. A deep study of life, of misfortune born out of a seemingly minor infraction that took on a life of its own~~the wrong choice at the wrong time, people and places [that regrettably happens to us all]. I'm so eager to see Season 2 I'm deflated it's not already on Amazon for viewing and will have to wait a year. Checking online it appears there WILL be a Season 2 which I HIGHLY LOOK FORWARD to. LUCKY is the viewer who gets to watch Seasons 1 and 2 back to back.
The actors, acting, directing are superb, the quality and true-to-life texture of the scenes, characters and filming~ A+. I could and would very much like to go into greater detail but do not wish to steal your thrill by outing any of the plot or of revealing how Season 1 ends.
If you like dark and gritty, this show's for you.