Let me add that I loved Wonder Woman and was willing to like everything that director Patty Jenkins was entrusted with. Also, I'm a mystery junkie with more than a weakness for Los Angeles.
So yes. I went into the night with many reasons to like it. But as it turned out, it would have fascinated me anyway. I'm the night aired on TNT Monday and premiered on Stan in Australia on Tuesday.
The six-episode TNT miniseries were written and created by Sam Sheridan and produced by Jenkins and Pine as executive producers. Pine Stars and Jenkins conduct the first two episodes of this story based on real-world events. It's located in a dazzling, neon-rich Los Angeles from 1965 that will remind you of the city you've fallen in love with in films like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential.
Pine plays Jay Singletary, a former naval and Korean war veteran who used to be a promising reporter and must now try to make ends meet as a kind of paparazzi figure (and support his coke addiction). Although he has a soft heart, he sometimes demands the need to ignore the law and privacy of his goals. His editor would like to meet him in the historic downtown bar, King Eddy Saloon, and send him to run errands, such as photographing a shot-dead maid in the morgue and finding out his story.
We also have Fauna (India Eisley), a determined is an open-minded teenager who lives outside of Reno, Nevada, and was raised by her single mother Jimmy Lee (Golden Brooks). The fauna looks white. Her mother is African American. In the fauna school cafeteria there are separate black and white tables. The police stop her and her boyfriend just because he's black. They treat her differently when she tells them that she is not really white.
Fauna and Jay are the two central figures in a show in which their stories talk about racism and the cost of war. We see that fauna deals with the complexity of identity, and what it means to be black or white and to be family, but also genes. Jay is a wounded soldier who is being pursued by nightmares. "They never train you as you come home," he says, remembering his training to fight in Korea.
Then there is the mystery that Fauna brings to Los Angeles to look for her family and eventually make her meet Jay. If you're too busy, it would all be spoiled, but the true fauna Hodel was a co-producer of this show, which is inspired by her life. You may never have heard of her. Her relative, the gynecologist George Hodel, however, has its own Wikipedia entry. And at the end of the first or second episode of I Am the Night, you can not stop yourself from googling Black Dahlia.
One of the great joys of seeing this show is the depiction of Los Angeles. You'll see how Sowden House, designed by Lloyd Wright in a style reminiscent of his father Frank Lloyd Wright, and the place where George Hodel lived for a few years, is eerie and lavish from the outside.
The Huntington, an art institution and library, is used as the open-air restaurant and gallery for the Hodel Art Collection. (You might reconsider your taste for surrealistic art after watching this show). And other Los Angeles classics like Chili John's or the ever-lit City Hall are a cameo. The city is mainly photographed at night. There are many bird's eye views of the flickering white and red lights of the cars that populated streets and highways in the 1960s. The view is reminiscent of David Lynch's moody Mulholland Drive.
I Am the Night suddenly has a lot going on: a murder mystery, a search for identity, lessons about ethical journalism, an account of how paralyzing the PTSD can be and the absurdity of racism. A bit more focus would probably have benefited the show. But I did not mind that it was so crowded thematically, because everything fascinated me on the screen – from the costumes to art and architecture to music and real places.
The mystery at the heart of the show did not get my attention as much as those in Big Little Lies or Broadchurch. But that did not necessarily bother me. This is a story based on real events, and I was able to google what happened at any given time. The big revelation did not have to be who the killer is. And Pine's precise but almost effortless performance compensates more than any shortcomings the script could have.
Fortunately, there are also sly and almost funny moments in the midst of darkness, characterized mainly by conversations about art, surrealism and what it means to be literal between fauna and George Hodel's ex-wife Corinna Huntington. It is portrayed by Connie Nielsen, Amazon Queen Hippolyta inand another link between this show and the DC blockbuster.
And yes, even though he is swollen and literally beaten for most of them, Show shows that Pine can turn on his Hollywood charisma. As if he puts on a heart-shaped, red-rimmed sunglasses and admits the fauna, he is just like an Arnold Palmer: somehow bitter, somehow sweet.
Conclusion: I am the night. Even if Pine is not your favorite Chris. Even if you were not in the least outraged when Jenkins and her Wonder Woman were flattened in last year's Oscars nominations. Even if you do not like LA.
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