Cold Comes The Night Review
I love a dark thriller, the grittier the atmosphere the better. Anything with painfully conflicted characters, I am in all the way. In 2013, its easy to say that we have seen in it all in every genre, but sometimes originality isn't the only thing I look for in movies. Oh sure, originality certainly helps, but most of the time, I just wanted something good. I like movies that tell a good story well, no matter how simple the content. I want my screenwriters to write to theme and contextualize their characters, the theme and the story overall. A movie doesn't have try to be something its not, not for me to like it.
"Cold Comes The Night," is a perfect winter thriller movie. It has a good cast that includes Alice Eve, Bryan Cranston, Logan Marshall-Green and Erin (Sura from Spartacus) Cummings. The story is structured like one we've heard a thousand times, but there are good performances, there are tense moments, and man I was entertained almost entirely throughout. Its not a movie I'll probably remember once 2014 really gets going. But I am glad I saw it, and ultimately, it has made 2014 good so far.
The film's opening scene is one of the best, because it completely sets up the mood. We see a snow globe, as the camera slowly pans out. Then we see broken glass and bloody money followed by a dead body. Are we outside of a bank? All I knew was that I'd be in for something nuts as the film wore on. We meet Chloe (Eve) a hotel manager who lives in a room with her daughter. She is a single mom who is constantly pestered by social services. They are giving Chloe two weeks to move out of the hotel or they will take her daughter. Chloe can't afford to move right now, but there are various complaints of prostitution and drug use within her hotel, not the best setting to raise a little girl in. One night a blind, Polish man named Topo (Cranston) checks into the hotel, the same night of a gruesome murder of a prostitute. The next day, Topo checks out and takes Chloe and her daughter hostage.
Seems the killer of the prostitute the night before was Topo's driver. It seems Topo has to obtain and deliver money to a group of Polish gangsters, and learning how much Chloe is struggling in her own life, Topo agrees to give her a cut of the green-backs. The rest of the film is Chloe and Topo's journey to get the money and get it to the gangsters on time, all while police are after the duo. Like I said, it sounds like a film you have seen countless times before, but somehow "Cold Comes The Night" doesn't really look or feel familiar.
What makes "Cold Comes The Night" stand out is the actors, not just their performances, but costume, make-up, etc. all adds to the flavor of their presence. This film takes place in a very rural, very poor part of our country. Nobody tries to look good for work, fashion is completely out the window, and everyone smokes. The actors make us feel every bit of this small-town culture, and it makes the film stronger overall. It was very interesting seeing both Alice Eve and Erin Cummings so de-glamorized, but it worked well with the film's tone. The work done by Eve and Cranston was handled very well, and I particularly love Cranston's Polish accent, had I never watched "Malcolm In The Middle," or "Breaking Bad," or "Drive," or "Contagion," or "Total Recall," or the other solid things he's done, I would have probably thought he was a Polish actor. Eve in particular breaks out of her dimensional shell for this film and the result is quite riveting.
In the end, "Cold Comes The Night" gives you exactly what is intended, a short, intense, quick crime caper that will be a fun watch. It may not revitalize the genre, but that's okay. In a month that is stereo-typically bad for movies, I'll take a familiar yet well-polished neo-noir any day of the month.
FINAL GRADE: B