The Hard Goodnight
Mar 25, 2023
Jf Davis, Bo Myers, Joseph Rene, Jason Lee Boyson
Two elderly men collaborate with neo-Nazis in order to illegally acquire much-needed money.
William (Davis) is a former Hollywood stuntman and actor who now owns a movie theater. However, the cinema is not doing well financially and unless he raises money quickly, he well have to close it permanently. Reluctantly, he is persuaded by his friend Bo (Myers) to do a deed for a bunch of neo-Nazis, which is to rob a van containing church donations.
This feature follows a concept that is based on law-abiding people turning to crime out of desperation, which almost always leads to terrible consequences. However, this film is not an adrenaline-filled ride. It is a slow-burning story that focuses heavily on William's character and his strong friendship with Bo. The screenplay follows the two friends as they spend time together, prepare for the robbery and it has a resolution that is a bit overlong. People get hurt and like many films that have a plot about good guys turning to crime, it makes the statement that crime does not pay. There are tense moments, but drama, tragedy and contemplating the past is what mostly dominates throughout.
William is quite an intriguing hero, a quiet, lonely former stuntman, who drinks a lot and has a passion for old movies (particularly Westerns), which is evident as he only shows films from the Golden Age of Hollywood at his theater and has a room with movie posters from that era decorating the walls. He is a man who is living in the past and is haunted by a devastating act. Bo appears to be the only person William truly has in his life, who looks out for him, yet has a declining health. Rene has an interesting role as the head of the neo-Nazi group, a calm, calculative and manipulative guy with a unique haircut and an obvious disregard for other people.
Director of photography Mason Hunsicker deserves commendations for the cinematography and interestingly, there is a sequence that was filmed in black-and-white. Although this sequence is unexpected, by utilising black-and-white and due to its content, it appears to pay homage to early film noir films.
The soundtrack includes a selection of good songs and there is tense and sinister music. Praise also goes to the creativity during the closing credits.
With his first feature film, Magana tells an intriguing story about old age, nostalgia, friendship, regrets, neo-Nazism and crime. It is mainly a character study and could be classified as a Western neo-noir crime film. It has interesting characters and strong acting and it pays homage to the Western and film noir genres.