Written and directed by J. Antonio, Night Job is an ambitious first effort by the new “auteur.” Taking the 1984 Whodini song “The Freaks Come Out at Night” as his template, Antonio tells the story of James (Jason Torres) a neophyte night doorman in New York.
As anyone who works, or has worked, the night shift knows the setting of the sun brings out the weird and wonderful denizens of any city. James is treated to a bizarre evening of eccentric tenants (He is the doorman to a high-rise apartment building.) street vendors and more.
Antonio also tries hard to make this film a visual melting pot of foreigners who have flocked to the big city for whatever reasons. James comes in contact with a number of oddball characters, including his lazy co-worker, Romeo (Greg Kritikos).
Shot almost entirely in black and white and taking place, for the most part, inside an apartment building foyer, Night Job could almost be called a comedy noir film. Torres could be seen as the “Sam Spade” of doormen.
(The only colour sequence is when James dreams of meeting a woman at a rooftop party. Antonio does this, presumably, to go against tradition where dreams are filmed in black and white, or at the very least, sepia.)
While the acting is, in a number of cases, lacking; there are performances that stand out head and shoulders above the majority of the cast. A lot of the “European” characters sound right while some of the local parts sound disconnected and wooden. It is understandable that films with low/no budgets have little choice in the performers they use.
The truly outstanding bits of acting on offer includes:
Timothy J. Cox, as usual, provides a huge amount of truth in his performance as Mr. Jones, the man whose girlfriend has his apartment keys.
Stacey Weckstein, in her first role in a feature length film, nails it as the girl who has had too much of everything. The wide eyed, slow and careful delivery is spot on. As any actor will tell you, playing an intoxicated or stoned character is damned difficult and this young lady killed it.
Monikha Reyes, in her first role ever, plays her part with an ease that is scary, natural and spot on.
Jason Torres does an adequate job as the keystone that all the other players must gravitate around. He has the unenviable task of creating a character who mainly reacts to the insanity that unfolds in front of him as the night shift goes on.
Other players who manage to smoothly create characters seen for a matter of moments includes Shanae Christine Harris, as Josephine, Kutcha as Julio, Lester Greene as the DVD street vendor, Brandon J. Shaw as “Apartment 718,” Steven L. Coard as Mark and Bettina Skye as Stella.
Cinematographer Valentin Farkasch does a brilliant job keeping the camera out of the frame in an environment full of mirrors and reflective glass. The only complaint about the film would be the tendency of too many close ups during a conversation. The movie could have used a few more “medium shots” but the urge to “zoom” could have been dictated by the set’s many reflective surfaces.
At 85 minutes, the film is a tad too long for the subject matter, however, the slow pacing and the overall length could well be J. Antonio’s way of putting the audience in James’ shoes. Any nightshift is long, but the first one, in any job, is excruciatingly long.
All in all, Night Job is amusing and gives the audience a wide range of quirky characters. Torres gives his role a “nice guy” flavor that keeps the viewer on his side throughout his first night as a “temp.”
Night Job is a 3.5 star film. It is a solid enough first attempt that, in places, feels a bit too improvisational. This could well be the reason that some of the characters and their lines felt a bit wooden.
J. Antonio has gotten off to a good start and it will be interesting to see what his next project will be. The film is due out in 2017.