Review: Midday Black Midnight Blue

Written and directed by Samantha Soule, who also stars in the film, and Daniel Talbott, isolated in an empty house, Ian remains in grief over the loss of a woman he loved who died two decades ago. The memory clamouring to be released, and his daily existence turning ever darker, Ian will have to find a way to let her go. Starring: Chris Stack, Samantha Soule, Will Pullen, Gloria Alcala, McCaleb Burnett, Lovell Holder, Shane McRae, Dale Soules, Addie Johnson Talbott and Merritt Wever.

While previously grief and loss were topics that were typically always explored in the same ways, the last few years have seen the representations open up and embrace its complexity. Midday Black Midnight Blue is another great example of how complicated the pain of grief is, especially in its longevity. The film truly explores how Ian’s (Chris Stack) intense loss warps his memory, even after many years have passed. It shows how it can cause time to almost stand still, until he can start to move forward, he’s forever living in the same moment. In that same sense it shows the need to have people around you to help you to find that momentum and the motivation to find a new way to live. It’s a story full of sadness but it surprisingly also gets slightly experimental with its style.

It really dives headfirst into that idea of memories and regrets haunting Ian, and it’s interesting to see that mix of memory and imagination portraying the effect of time. However it can fall slightly too hard into it which throws off the progression and pace of the story. Especially for anyone viewing with a less than lengthy attention span, it might become somewhat confusing the back and forth between past, present, reality and fantasy. Although all of it is excellently shot, right from the start it has a thoughtful, sombre and strong atmosphere. There’s a feel of isolation, the cinematography is superb and its use of quiet pushes the tone further.

A great majority of the film rests upon the shoulders of Chris Stack’s performance, he’s front and centre leading the way and does so wonderfully. His performance is beautifully broken, he’s fragile and so intensely stuck, he’s practically moving backwards. There’s a perfect amount of vulnerability to him and an aggressive push back to any help that creates a kind of self-punishment for Ian. Samantha Soule’s performance is full of energy and bite but at the same time it doesn’t feel as though we truly get to know her character. Seeing her in bits and pieces, in an intense emotional state, doesn’t really allow a bigger grasp on her personality, although there is a genuine attempt to build a history to her choices. Then you have Merritt Wever who is honestly a welcome addition to any piece of film or television, her presence as ridiculously consistent as it is compelling. She has such an aura of emotion, strength and sympathy that it’s almost impossible not to be drawn in by.

Midday Black Midnight Blue is an unusual and intense exploration of grief. Led by a terrific performance from Chris Stack, who really throws everything he has at Ian, it’s as chaotic as it is heartrending. It creates a strong aesthetic which takes in the natural beauty of its location and mixes it with a bending of reality. However, it unfortunately dives so deep that it gets lost within the warped memories and starts to forget about reality, which throws off the overall tone and progression.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

Reviewed as part of the 2023 NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival

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