Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Day Shall Come

I like the Arlington Capitol well enough, but when a movie is only opening there on its first week in the Boston area, that's not necessarily a red flag but it kind of makes one wonder a bit. In this case, The Day Shall Come opened right at the same time as a couple of things that had big crossover appeal in Downton Abbey and Judy, so both the boutique houses and the multiplexes that often have an extra screen had a lot of space spoken for, and this one was confrontational political but probably not quite brilliant enough to take a risk on.

As I mention in the EFC review, though, I do wonder if a room large enough that the handful of people who liked Four Lions and would seek the next movie from that guy out could wind up spread out is the worst possible way to see this one. It's edgy enough that I think the sensation of other people enjoying it - not just from big laughs, but a nearby snort or the sensation of someone nearby getting tensed up (or less so) - could be contagious. There's stuff in it where it may not appropriate to laugh, and feeling that approval might be a big deal. At home, the lack of anybody in the room to not like your reaction could be important too.

Ah, well. Maybe it gets more shows in Arlington after Thursday, but I kind of doubt it. Here's hoping people find it on demand!

The Day Shall Come

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 27 September 2019 in Capitol Theatre #3 (first-run, DCP)

The Day Shall Come seems like it would be a lot more fun in a packed house of folks who are into it, but where are you going to scare up that sort of crowd for a dark comedy about the FBI trying to bust a mentally ill man for terrorism? It's not quite weird or star-powered enough for the sort of buzz that Sorry to Bother You could get, for instance, even if it is thinking along the same lines. So it screens for three of us, and we laugh, but without the reinforcement that would have the laughter filling the room.

It opens with Moses al-Shabbaz (Marchánt Davis) and a couple other members of his small congregation trying to get some small-timers to stop working the street and work on his community farm, which is well-behind on its rent. He talks about someday striking a blow against the "gentrificators" and the white people who have been keeping them down, but he's both practical enough to know that he needs a much larger movement and schizophrenic enough to believe God spoke to him through a duck and that he'll be able to topple the cranes with the power of his mind. Meanwhile, the Miami office of the FBI is busily entrapping confused Middle-Eastern.people, and while the local chief (Denis O'Hare) tells Special Agent Kendra Glack (Anna Kendrick) that in the current environment, brown perps play better than black, Moses is a guy that they've been keeping an eye on, and the next one they decide to focus on.

The film is stacked from top to bottom with people trying to do the right thing via fraud, from Moses to every level of law enforcement, with the obvious added wrinkle that Moses doesn't always know what's real and what is not. It's a mess piled three or four levels deep and most everybody involved is so invested in their delusions from the start that it never occurs to them to examine their amorality, with brief moments of lucidity unable to slow what's steaming ahead out of control. If co-writer/director Christopher Morris's previous film Four Lions played on how most would-be terrorists aren't very bright to try to allay the racist fears of the 2000s while also hinting that the promised infamy could make jihad more attractive, The Day Shall Come gets its fuel from an equally stupid professionalism and efficiency, with law enforcement so certain of there being monsters around every corner and driven by an almost corporate need to show results.

Full review on EFilmCritic

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