Night Catches Us

My latest review has been posted at (the beautifully redesigned) rednow.

“Surely we are being punished because of our brother.” Jacob’s resigned sons utter these words in the 42nd chapter of Genesis. The brothers had ventured to Egypt in the midst of a famine to purchase food for their families only to encounter the brother they thought was dead—well, murdered actually. Their supposedly dead brother, Joseph, doesn’t immediately reveal his identity and makes his kin feel the precariousness of their vulnerable position.  They interpret their desperate situation as divine punishment, retribution for their earlier crimes against Joseph.

It is 1976 when Marcus returns to his Philadelphia home in Night Catches Us.  His deceased father lies in a coffin in an otherwise empty room, a Bible on his chest opened to Genesis 42. As director Tanya Hamilton delicately unwinds the story, we learn Marcus brought punishment upon the family—a family that extends to the Black Panthers. This group of young African American men and women, variously lauded and feared, had not long before been a stabilizing presence in the neighborhood. Things have clearly changed and Marcus’ return surfaces painful and angry memories for many within the neighborhood.

Read the rest at rednow.

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