It still weirds me out to see the level of authenticity teenagers are portrayed in — unhibited and unapologetic; honest and raw, every beautiful and ugly story is told. Especially the ugly. Sex, drugs, one cigarette after another, the word ‘fuck’ flying as fast as clothes from Miley Cyrus. Depression is taken seriously, without clichés or embellishments. The thing with Night Has Settled is that it portrays all of this witch children.
Thirteen-year-old disrupted Oliver lives life on full speed in 1980s New York, testing boundaries and running, not stepping over them. When his biggest concern, hiding the smell of smoke on his breath, is replaced by loss, he is left dangling, without knowing how to move on or go back. His difficult family, where Oliver’s only beacon has been their 65-year-old Chilean housekeeper, only gets more complicated after she has a stroke. Oliver doesn’t know what to do, so he just does more of the same — with more vodka and more sleepless nights. At least this way, he doesn’t feel anything. He looks for his place until he finds something. Someone.
It seems unfair that a film like this is so good — Oliver’s displacement shouldn’t be this beautiful, the colours shouldn’t blend this well and the nighttime city shouldn’t fit so well with the preteens. Director Steve Clark wants to wound, though, afflict, draw out emotions from the viewer, no matter how far his characters have to go for that. Night Has Settled might not leave a stamp on the soul, doesn’t leave you chewing your lip and look into the abyss for weeks after, but it does make watching the film an experience where it’s impossible to turn your eyes from Oliver.