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After The Night/Até ver a luz tells the tale of Sombra, an outcast living a nocturnal life in the Creole-speaking Cap Verdean community of Reboleira. His only friends and family are his brother, auntie, a small girl and his pet iguana, Dragon. Mixed up with a local gang and indebted to the boss, Sombra is forced to participate in an armed robbery, but when that goes awry, he flees, desperately trying to make it through the night alive.
After The Night is director, Basil Da Cunha’s debut feature and he certainly shows a great deal of potential, but ultimately, this is little more than a clichéd gangster film. However, it’s not without its aspiration, it is as indebted to neo-realism as it is City of God (Meirelles, 2002) and therefore, by proxy, also the likes of Boyz N the Hood (Singleton, 1991).
Da Cunha confidently directs an almost entirely non-professional cast without the aid of a screenplay; the actors didn’t rehearse nor did they read the script during filming, they were merely given certain cues that they couldn’t miss. That’s an impressive feat for any director.
With its claustrophobic spaces and setting, there’s a certain inevitability to Sombra’s story and at only 90 minutes the director keeps the film moving at a steady pace.
Their aren’t many innocents in the ghetto and unlike City of God, there’s no hope here – not even a glimmer. In that respect, Sombra ‘s tale has more in common with Double Indemnity’s (Wilder, 1944) Walter Neff than City of God’s Rocket.