Directed by J. Antonio Starring Jason Torres, John Torres, Robert Youngren, Bettina Skye, Lester Greene, Timothy J. Cox Indie Film Review by Phil Slatter
Night Job opens with a black and white glimpse of New York, accompanied with an impressive soft jazz score that makes you feel as though you’re watching a film noir from the 50’s. However, we soon discover that this is the Manhattan of today as we meet James (Jason Torres), a doorman in a plush apartment covering the night shift just a week into the role. He then serves as our eyes and ears as we follow him throughout the night whilst he encounters a wide spectrum of people who come and go in the apartment block’s lobby.
From residents to a taxi driver, a con man to bootlegging DVD salesman, old residents to young, tradesmen to a priest apparently performing an exorcism, James becomes in equal parts an observer, a supporting character and a leading man throughout a series of vignettes that come and go as frequently as the supporting cast. All the while he is trying to sort out his own love life and just in general stay awake, despite an aversion to coffee.
There isn’t too much of a centralised plot and subsequently it is to writer/director J. Antonio’s credit that he keeps the interest up throughout the film's running time. The minor stories are at times funny, sad, quirky, meaningful and insignificant and they come and go like rapid fire. Torres is excellent in the film's central role, portraying the appropriate amount of wide-eyed naivety alongside a necessary sense of likeability that engages the audience throughout. The performances of the supporting cast are somewhat mixed, but such is the shared screen time of the many cast members that it is never a significant problem.
It makes for an interesting experimental film that evokes memories of past independent filmmakers, some of whom are referenced in the closing credits. Its predominant single location, black and white aesthetic and structural set-up are akin to that of Kevin Smith’s Clerks while the regular comings and goings are not too dissimilar to Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, even if the two films sit in very different genres. It’s not even a stretch to say Night Job shares some DNA with Taxi Driver as both films feature an individual observing New Yorkers and how they behave when the sun goes down.
This doesn’t delve into the deeper recesses of the human soul in the way that Scorsese’s masterpiece does as it is an altogether more light-hearted affair. Admittedly some of the humour doesn’t come across quite as well as it needs to and the dialogue (of which there is much) becomes occasionally stilted. Meanwhile an amusing, dream-sequence feels slightly out of kilter with the rest of the proceedings.
Yet as a whole it works well, taking a simple idea and a low budget but still managing to showcase an array of talent in front of and behind the camera.