Norman (Caleb Landry Jones) survived a fire when he was a child, but his parents didn’t. He is still traumatized by this, but tries to have a normal family life with his girlfriend Penelope (Eleonore Hendricks) and their little son. After he pulls his best friend Andi (Christos Haas) from a fire, Norman’s own childhood memories resurface and he finds himself drawn to fire.
To the Night is not an easy film, and I didn’t expect it to be. While it is a little exhausting to watch, there is something to it – though personally I got more caught up in a small aspect of it than the grand scheme of things.
To the Night does excellent character work with Norman. I have to admit that all his attempts to work through his trauma puzzled me a lot (especially the last construction remained unclear for me – what was the idea or purpose behind that) but that isn’t really important – we all deal with trauma in different ways and we don’t have to understand everything.
Landy Jones is excellent in the role and Norman’s pain is very obvious. Less obvious for me was why Penelope sticks to him all that much (maybe because the script was written by a man). I mean, I understand that you don’t want to abandon somebody you love when they’re in pain, but there is also such a thing of self-preservation and also protecting your child.
The single most affecting thing for me in the film wasn’t Norman though, or his story, but a short appearance by Russ Foxx as Larry. Foxx is a body mod artist whose stuff is pretty unsettling and we get a glimpse of this in the film – which would have been fascinating enough. But then he says like three sentences, and I immediately had such a deep sense of trust in him, I would have chosen him as my therapist in an instant. I was pretty surprised by my reaction and I kept thinking this over more than the rest of the film.
Not that the rest of the film wasn’t interesting or worth thinking about, but it just didn’t have that impact on me. In fact, I thought that it had some lengths here and there, and I wasn’t quite as into it as I would have liked. In any case, it’s an interesting film, though.