Actress Jordana Spiro's impressive first feature as a director offers a thoughtful and unhurried portrayal of a young woman at a critical crossroads in her life. Night Comes On deftly guides us into a dark world where kids struggle to get by despite mistreatment or neglect by adults. Spiro drops in scenes of normalcy seen through 18-year-old Angel's eyes, of what life could be like for a girl her age, and keeps coming back to the recurring sound of waves crashing, evoking a sole positive memory for Angel. Spiro also plays with camera angles in key scenes and slow motion sequences as a transition device. These techniques threaten to call too much attention to themselves, but ultimately they work to support the development of Angel's character.
Lead actress Fishback (who also stars in Netflix's Project Power) gives a convincing and sensitive performance as a teenager teetering between childhood and adulthood, between giving in to the negative forces holding her back or starting to piece her life together. When she smiles for possibly the first time in the movie and lets her hair down during a climactic scene, we realize just how tightly wound up and scarred her Angel is. We breathe a sigh of relief along with her, short-lived as it turns out. That's good storytelling, buoyed by perceptive acting.