6 strangers in a city, leading very different lives, but all heading towards the same point that night – one where violence erupts. But traces of that violence are everywhere, fragments of the very real shooting at The Dark Knight Rises premiere in Colorado.
Dark Night is not a documentary of the Aurora shooting, nor is it a dramatization of the events. While it does use details from and media coverage of the shooting, it doesn’t so much attempt to reconstruct what happened but to show a caleidoscope of details, rearranging everything until there’s very little left that even has the possibility to make sense at all.
It’s an ambitious project and an interesting cinematic attempt, but ultimately, it’s a film that I wanted to like much more than I actually did.
As has become my habit, I went into the film knowing very little about it and about the shooting it is based on. Unfortunately, Dark Night is one of those films where that isn’t the ideal strategy and I wished that I had at least familiarized myself with the details of the shooting before seeing it. That way I could have put together some of the film’s puzzle pieces while watching it and not only on reading it afterwards.
But even if I had, Dark Night is not a film meant to be put together into a coherent whole. There will always be something that doesn’t fit, that sticks out, that could be seen as a hint in hindsight, but never has to be. By spreading out characteristics from the shooter and bits of the shooting over various characters – one has the orange hair, one the guns, one the personality we like to assign to shooters – Sutton manages to show that a terrorist act like this will not only leave echoes of trauma and violence everywhere, but also that it comes from a society that’s already suffused with both.
That being said, I did struggle with the film despite its good qualities. I struggled with its glacial pace. I struggled with connecting with most of the characters – it was just the characters played by Robert Jumper (who obviously plans an attack and seems to look right through the world with his intense green eyes) and Anna Rose Hopkins (who takes selfie after selfie in acts that are equally self-loving and self-hating) that really had me sit up to pay attention to them. And I struggled with the structure. As much as I can appreciate it on an intellectual level, emotionally it kept me at a distance.
Ultimately that is true for the entire film for me. My heart was never really in it. And without my heart’s involvement, the film is sapped of its strength and impact.