Monday, August 29, 2016

The Night Of ... HBO/BBC Mini-Series

First, I have to apologize for not posting this sooner as last night the final episode of this amazing mini-series aired. I was so enthralled, I wanted to watch the whole thing before reviewing it. Sorry about that. However, I'm sure it will be available in its entirety for HBO subscribers On Demand and will land on other viewing services soon.

Based on a BBC series, this one takes place in the New York City area. A young Palestinian-American, Nasir Khan (Naz), played by Riz Ahmed, is a college student. One Friday he has an important exam, which he aces.  Some of his friends urge him to come to their party in Manhattan. He politely declines as he's not the type who goes out much.  He is a practicing Muslim and stays close with other Muslims and Palestinians. He lives in one of the boroughs, I don't remember which. He rarely is in Manhattan at all.

But after his whole family goes to bed at 10:00, he decides he'd like to go to the party, after all. So he grabs the keys to the cab his father, uncle, and cousin share. He drives into the city. On his way to the party, he has to fend off a couple of men wanting a cab.  He tells them he's off-duty and finally persuades them he's not for hire. Later, at a stoplight, an attractive young woman gets in to the back seat.  He tries telling her he's off-duty, but she pays no attention.  She asks him to stop at a gas station/convenience store to buy beer for her, so he does.

When he comes back to the cab she says she wants to go to the beach.  He refuses saying it's much too far. He asks her if the river would be okay. So she agrees.  They end up on the riverbank drinking beer.  She is obviously under the influence of something she took earlier. She gives him a pill which turns out to be Ecstasy. Then they get back in the cab and go to her home.

There she gives him something else which turns out to be Ketamine, a major horse tranquilizer, which is sometimes used to put dogs to sleep. They begin to have sex. He passes out.

A couple of hours later, he wakes up in  her kitchen with no idea how he got there from the upstairs bedroom. High and fearful about getting home so late, he goes up to the bedroom. He finds her lying on a blood-soaked sheet, with blood spatter on the walls, and major stab wounds on her body.

In full panic mode, he grabs his clothes, dresses and runs out the front door, only to realize he left the keys in the brownstone. The door locked after him when he went out, so he must break the glass in the door to get back inside. Unfortunately for him, he is seen by the voyeur neighbor across the street. The man calls the police and the inevitable happens.  He identifies Naz as the man he saw running from the house.

Naz is taken in for questioning while the police enter the house and find her body. The forensic team follows and you can guess what happens.

Veteran actor John Turturro, plays a small-time attorney, Jack Stone, who sees Naz sitting in the holding cell in the station. So he says he's his attorney and is admitted to the cell to talk to him.

I must say Turturro's performance is perfect. His role is an actor's dream and he fulfills that dream on every level. I'm predicting an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for him next year. His performance is astounding in this one. Always a favorite character actor of mine, I loved him in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" one of the funniest films I've ever seen. I could watch it over and over. This performance tops that one in every way. Amazing job.

The supporting cast are all spot on in their roles including Glenn Headly, the high-powered attorney Naz's parents hire instead of Jack Stone. Trouble is, she wants him to take a plea and doesn't care he may well be innocent. She quits the case when he refuses before the judge. Amara Karan plays a young attorney who takes his case next, with Turturro aiding her. Jeannie Berlin plays Helen Weiss, the assistant DA who prosecutes Naz's case. Jeff Wincott plays Detective Lucas, the retiring NYPD detective who doesn't believe Naz did it, but he is in the minority.

Michael F. Williams, the late Slappy White of HBO's Boardwalk Empire, does an excellent job as Freddy Knight, the powerful prisoner/lord of Riker's Island.

Paul Sparks plays Don Taylor, the husband of the victim's late mother who will inherit a nice estate which includes the $10,000,000. brownstone where the victim was murdered.

Paulo Costanzo, late of the series Royal Pains, is another suspect. He was the victim's financial advisor.
Apparently he was embezzling from her accounts.

Neither of the above suspects are seriously considered by the NYPD nor the DA's office.

This series is a powerful piece of drama, which reflects the injustice often found in America's courts and prisons.

With incredible performances and a surprising end to the story, this is an award worthy series. Don't miss it, if you can take drama at this level.

Oh, one more thing, watch for the last appearance of the cat...just sayin'.

Until next time...

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