Racism, privilege and sexual inequality are all issues becoming increasingly talked about and fought against. With Night, Dutch filmmaker Joosje Duk dissects all three in gracefully yet powerfully by playing with audience expectations.
Four young women – two black, two white – are getting ready for a night out in New York, the only slight hitch being that just one of them, Genelva, is actually 21. But with fake IDs and a plan to sweet-talk Eddie the ‘hot’ nightclub bouncer, there shouldn’t be an issue. Only, there is.
Neither of the white girls are let in because he thinks their IDs are fake, even the genuine one. Then Eddie (also a person of colour) asks “Do you not speak English?” when they don’t budge. It takes a bribe to get them admitted, but soon Gen has to fend off the advances of another black guy who ‘likes her type’. Something isn’t right with this whole picture, but it’s only when the ladies reach a fast food place that we realise what Duk’s done. Everyone’s race here has been flipped.
Gen is black, Eddie is white, and his actions and those of the man in the club are examples of the everyday racism – the micro-aggressions – that people of colour have to face. That Gen, as a woman, suffers twice over. And that her two (now revealed to be white) friends don’t understand, and don’t even believe in. “I think you’re just being a little sensitive,” one says.
The brilliance of Night is that it’s not preachy or heavy handed. It’s subtle and authentic (Duk ‘talked to many women from various backgrounds’.) Yet it’s surely enough to get those with the same experiences riled up at its relevance – and to make the rest of us think about the constant drip-feed of racism (and sexism) that needs defying just as much as more explicit examples.
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DIRECTOR & WRITER: Joosje Duk
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Maria Rusche
STARRING: Rachel Hilson, Genelva Krind, Kelly McCready, Katherine Romans
SYNOPSIS: The carefree dynamic between four friends suddenly shifts following an unpleasant encounter with a nightclub bouncer.