DIR: Tze Chun • WRI: Tze Chun, Osgood Perkins, Nick Simon • PRO: Mynette Louie, Trevor Sagan • DOP: Noah Rosenthal. • ED: Paul Frank • DES: Laurie Hicks •CAST: Alice Eve, Bryan Cranston, Logan Marshall-Green
Chloe (Eve) is the owner of a sleazy motel whose inhabitants are predominantly prostitutes and junkies. The reason for the griminess of the motel’s customers is largely down to an agreement Chloe has with local, crooked cop Billy (Marshall-Green), in which he gets a cut of her profits in exchange for him turning a blind eye to the lurid activities that take place in the motel. Chloe is under pressure from social services to find a more suitable environment for her to raise her young daughter Sophia in. The trouble is that Chloe struggles to make ends meet with the motel as it is and does not have the capital she needs to start a new life. However, when an incompetent sociopath is killed in her motel, Chloe is forced to help his blind partner in crime, Russian mobster Topo (Cranston) relocate a stash of money that was in the dead man’s car, and which has been taken by Billy. Initially scared of Topo, Chloe gradually begins to wonder if this might be an opportunity for her to get the extra cash she needs for her and her daughter to start a new life.
While this may all sound terribly generic, Cold Comes the Night eschews such accusations, through virtue of its pervasive oddness and unintentional hilarity. What was going through the mind of whoever thought it would be a good idea to cast Bryan Cranston as a Russian mobster is anyone’s guess? It is not just the thickness of the accent that raises chuckles but also the insistence that his character drops ”the” from every sentence. What makes matters even more curious is the fact that there is no real thematic reason for his character to be Russian. It’s as if the director, Tze Chun, simply thought it would be fun to experiment with how far he can take a well-respected character actor out of his comfort zone.
Marshall-Green does his best not be outshone by Cranston in the laughing stakes by giving one of the largest performances seen on screen in some time. It’s up to Eve to attempt to ground the film in some sort of believable reality. Having, earlier on in the year, been the subject of the Hollywood male gaze at its most cretinous, in a notorious, tastelessly gratuitous semi-nude scene in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Eve is here allowed to create the closest thing to a real character in the film. While her portrayal of a good mother and hard-working, if morally dubious, woman is quietly impressive it is hardly likely to be mistaken for something out of a film by The Dardenne Brothers in terms of its realism.
There are some unqualified successes- Noah Rosenthal’s cinematography is appropriately cool and distanced, while Jeff Grace’s excellent score keeps things enlivened. But if this film is likely to be remembered for anything, which in itself is highly unlikely, it is for how disastrously the film utilises its genuinely talented actors, particularly Cranston, and the question as to how, indeed, these actors came to be involved in it in the first place?
One wonders if the film isn’t in fact some grand postmodern joke. Just what universe is this film supposed to be taking place in? It is so utterly misconceived and so relentlessly ridiculous that it is certainly never boring. While that may not count as a recommendation for this ludicrous slice of pulp, it’s hard not to have some affection, or perhaps some sympathy, for something as harmlessly daft as this.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Cold Comes the Night is released on 20th September 2013