NIGHT CATCHES US (in theaters; Magnolia Pictures)
A smart, honest snapshot of black power’s legacy, Night Catches Us captures a heated transitional moment in the civil rights struggle, smack dab between the empowerment of hard-won gains and the disillusionment of later mistakes. Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie deliver intense, rounded performances as two ex-Panthers trying to move on with their lives in 1976 Philadelphia, while Amari Cheatom plays a young man obsessed with black power to combustible effect. Hamilton’s script lacks the narrative acuity of, say, Do the Right Thing, but the film vividly reminds us that our country’s acrimonious racial history is far from resolved.
This article first appeared in the January-February 2011 issue of Utne Reader.