The master of satire and black comedy has returned from a nine year feature film directing hiatus to bring us his new film ‘The Day Shall Come’. Chris Morris known for his controversial film debut, ‘Four Lions’, that followed four men as they planned a terrorist attack, and also satire news shows ‘Brass Eye’ and ‘The Day Today’. Controversy has arisen from much of his work as he satires the absurdity of society and politics, this same satire is rife in his sophomore feature. ‘The Day Shall Come’ as stated at the top of the film is “Inspired by a hundred stories”. Hundreds of surreal and absurd true stories of the downtrodden and underprivileged in American society being groomed by the FBI into pleading guilty to crimes of terrorism. Which shows the world that the threat of terrorism is real but that the FBI is up to the task. Morris’s adaptation of these stories follows Moses and his family who run a farm and revolutionary group and are trying to improve life in the Miami Projects. However his motives are called into question and the FBI begin to groom him into confessing to crimes of terrorism.
A plot that leans into the fantastical blurring of lines between realism and surrealism. This creates a narrative that is generally entertaining throughout. However the film doesn’t delve much deeper than moving through the necessary beats to tell the story. It dabbles in the meanings and motives behind the protagonist’s choices but they are quickly left by the wayside in favour of the FBI’s confusing, and at times frustrating, stitch up. The comedy throughout is consistently brilliant with a spread of well written satirical jokes and some brilliant comedic acting from the cast. This is where the film hangs it hat, relying on the comedy to carry most of the film, which does remove some of the kick from film’s finale. Morris does however achieve his goal of shedding light on the predatory nature of these FBI ‘projects’ and the agents who follow them through. However further clarification was necessary in understanding the severity of these cases as opposed to just relaying it generally via satire.
The cast succeed comedically across the board however none really stand up dramatically for the exception of the greatly underused Danielle Brooks. Marchánt Davis who embodies the film’s protagonist Moses, a kind hearted and disenfranchised man with a confused ideology and not a lot of common sense. The rest of his ‘army’ settle for roles as comedic relief with no further depth. Danielle Brooks plays Moses’ wife and mother of his child and feels like the only character grounded in reality. Her screen time is dramatically less than her co-stars but she stands out when she appears acting as an emotional cue for the audience. The entire FBI cast are very annoying and frustrating as was probably intended by Morris. Anna Kendrick and Denis O’Hare lead the squad and once again outside of the well-written comedy don’t stand out in their roles. Their motives throughout are frustrating and don’t entirely make a lot of sense, however this could be to do with the absurdity of the film’s inspiration rather than their performances or the narrative.
‘The Day Shall Come’ succeeds at shining a spotlight on an issue in America’s justice system that is being ignorantly overlooked. Morris critiques with his signature satire approach that has served him so well throughout his career. This film however doesn’t pack the same punch as his other works such as ‘Brass Eye’ or ‘Four Lions’. The impact and challenge of these on British culture has been large and long-lasting with references and revisits becoming the norm with every wave of a new and younger audience. Morris’s shift to tackling American culture doesn’t quite land the same way. Leaning just too far into the surreal for it to pack the same punch with an audience totally uneducated on the topic. For satire to really succeed their must be a knowledge or familiarity with the topic, which Morris had but most of his audience has not.
Written by Conor Crooks
STAR RATING –★★★
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