Manhattan Night full movie review - Fairly impressive, and more than a little disturbing.
Though I would not have normally chosen to watch this, it kept my attention decently well. My brother, who I saw it with said that he was rather bored for the first half, which I can understand.
The trailer shows that there is a rather dark plot that comes later in the story, so that kept me interested. The story becomes rather intricate, but not in a way that requires you to remember everything that's been said and shown thus far. I had no real trouble keeping up with it. Despite some of the slower parts, there are consistent dramatic questions that keep you wondering what is going to happen next. There are a few plot points that I don't think were ever fully addressed, so that could be a problem for some people.
There are two main themes that I have identified: scandal and curiosity. Both are interconnected at many points. Curiosity is what leads to all of the catastrophe, which is a catastrophe because of all of the scandals that the characters involve themselves in. Porter Wren pretty much defines himself by his curiosity and can't resist it most of the time. Eventually, he is required to survive on his curiosity, both to keep his column going and to get out of the mess he creates for himself. Mostly, he gets involved with the wrong people, but he has a lot of opportunities to pull out of it. I think the subliminal message is: be careful what you do, because somebody might be watching when you least expect it. I will not elaborate on this for spoiler reasons, but keep that in mind if you decide to see it.
You will probably not like any of the characters particularly. They are all written pretty well, but their dark sides are exposed a lot more than their goodness. Porter Wren shows some redeeming qualities, and you sort of root for him, but still don't really like him. He does generate some sympathy in how his nature as a journalist invades his relationship with his family. Caroline and Simon Crowley both have issues and do things that are interesting in context of a story, but make you glad you don't know them in real life. Caroline is not a creepy person herself, but the willingness she has in playing along with Simon is almost creepier than it would be if she had a queer personality to match her actions. All of the characters are villains throughout, including Porter. Hobbes feels the most like a villain, but this is mostly because of the wealth and power he holds. Each character has a solid motive, but their motives are very external rather than personal.
There are a few long conversations mixed with flashbacks, which may start feeling repetitive or at least feel familiar. Dialogue is very important, so don't go with someone who's going to talk through it if you plan on paying attention. Also, be aware that there are a number of disturbing scenes. The disturbing events that play out on screen are certainly not new to movies of this type, but their presentation is a more personal and isn't worried about making the audience uncomfortable
The script was pretty good. Slow at points, but the stage directions felt deliberate. The dialogue was definitely strong in its realism. The actors help emphasize this with their realistic performances. No performance is very impressive or memorable, but it's a breath of fresh air among all of the over-dramatic acting that movies tend to have. The drama's there, but it's believable and none of the lines sound "written".
I know that there are a lot of bigger movies out right now to grab your attention, but if you find the trailer interesting and appealing, I would suggest going out and seeing this. Also, keep in mind that the pace picks up later on. Not much happens initially, but it might be worth waiting until the story starts getting more dramatic and serious. If you aren't interested after the major plot turns, you probably won't enjoy the rest of it. It's not really my scene and wasn't terribly entertaining or pleasant, but it succeeded in keeping me genuinely interested for two hours. Overall Rating: 7.1/10.