Left feeling unhinged in a dark room with the enduring tension after a four episode binge on the latest mini-series ‘The Night Of’, it’s no exaggeration to say that I’m hooked with an obsession for HBO’s new TV drama.
Hauntingly filmic and meticulously framed details introduced shot by shot, the intensity of this mini-series draws you into ‘The Night Of’, a crime that unfolds with it’s storyline steered by solemn cinematography. Combining that sense of discomfort I last felt in the eery quality of the first ‘True Detective’ series and reminiscent of the rich character density portrayed in ‘The Wire’, the crime-drama reveals it’s story in the vein of ‘Making of A Murderer’.
I’m not one to read preview pieces or watch any trailers in the fear of spoilers which literally spoil the suspense. So I have no intention to put any spoilers in here, what follows is for all intents and purposes not a synopsis but a one sentence intro to what you’re about to get all kinds of obsessed about! Riz Ahmed stars as the accused and incarcerated suspect Nasir “Naz” Khan, a young US born Pakistani of working class background from Queens NY who gets caught up in series of events in a night that changes his life forever.
Adapted from the British TV series ‘Criminal Justice’ the project was originally set to star the late James Gandolfini alongside Riz Ahmed in the lead roles. Commissioned in 2013 by HBO for the 8 part TV drama series ‘The Night Of’ is written by New York crime author Richard Price and directed by Steven Zaillian the show’s co-creator (Gangs of New York, Schindlers N.Y). Following Gandolfini’s death, who is credited as one of the producers, the co-starring role was replaced by the equally compelling John Turturro.
Journeying from Jackson Heights in Queens to the Upper West side of Manhattan and eventually into the dark depths of Rikers Island, Riz Ahmed is supported by stellar casting. Dropping the shadow of ‘Omar Little’ from The Wire, Michael K. Williams returns to HBO pulling in a lazer focus performance as ‘Freddy’, while John Turturro, enters in true form instantly taking hold with his character’s flaws. Notable performances from a diverse cast include both British and US actors including Lord Jamar (Brand Nubian) as a prison guard, Amara Karan as the novice lawyer, Paul Sparks as the victims stepfather and Bill Camp the ‘subtle beast’ in the role of a veteran NYPD Homicide detective.
Riz Ahmed has already gathered widespread critical acclaim for his leading performance and is rapidly emerging as the next great British actor, after his recent ascent across both television and cinema screens. From his supporting role with Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’‘, Riz is appearing in the forthcoming ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ as well as the recent ‘Jason Bourne’ film. Speaking about his role as Naz in the Washington Post, Riz talks about his character portrayal in light of not only his predicament but current circumstances – “As a working-class child of immigrants, as a person of color in the criminal-justice system, and a Muslim post-9/11, I think you have to have a certain toughness and an edge. You have to be a survivor to get anywhere at all.”
Filming started back in 2013, and after a waiting period, ‘A Night Of’ was eventually shot over 8 months as a 8 part mini-series commissioned by HBO. It’s expected to premiere in the UK in September on Sky Atlantic and so far on HBO it’s premiere numbers have made it the 2nd biggest new drama on HBO since ‘Game Of Thrones’. I doubt many ardent crime-flick enthusiasts will be waiting till the Autumn for the U.K run – me included.
Watch the teaser trailer (no spoilers) above.