I'm not sure I want to meet the person who can watch Loira Limbal's deeply moving Through the Night and not fall completely in love with Deloris "Nunu" Hogan, one of three women at the film's cinematic heart as the film explores the intersecting lives of three working mothers whose lives connect at a 24-hour daycare center that is absolutely vital to each of their individual existences.
Nunu owns the daycare center alongside her husband Patrick. It's a daycare center that has been at the center of her life for years even as she's raised her own children amidst the chaos that is daycare.
If Limbal stopped right here, Through the Night would be an inspirational and entertaining feature documentary.
Of course, Limbal doesn't stop and as a result Through the Night becomes much more.
Limbal's work here is remarkable. A Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Just Films/Rockwood Fellow, Limbal makes us invested in these people's lives then she reminds us of that cost.
We have to care about the woman who has dedicated over two decades of her life caring for the children of parents with nowhere to turn; we have to care about the fact that even as her body screams out for her to slow down she maintains because she has to and because there's no safety net for the parents who depend on her and the children whom she loves.
We have to care about the mother working the overnight shift at a hospital as an essential worker.
We also have to care about another mother holding down three jobs to support her family.
Because we have to care about them, that caring also has to lead to something resembling action for these women who fight against racism, sexism, and the systemic obstacles inherent in America's capitalism. We have to care about the underpaid, the paid, the unpaid; we have to care about these women whose passions for their jobs and for their careers and for their families are as great as are the obstacles they must face to maintain their dignity through it all.
We have to care. Limbal makes us care.
Through the Night is a remarkable film because Limbal so beautifully captures the political and cultural and social factors at work here while, simultaneously, giving us a film we enjoy with women we admire and children we can't help but adore.
Through the Night is a feel-good film that will still piss you off.
It did me.
The only thing you'll truly wish for here is more time with these women, especially Nunu whom you will want to see cared for as much as she's caring for everyone else. You'll want to see her get what she deserves. Of course, the same will be true for the other women in the film. You'll want to spend more time than the 76 minutes that Limbal gives us with them and even as the closing credits are rolling you'll find yourself wondering about them.
Osie Essed's original music fits the film quite nicely. Lensing by the trio of Nausheen Dadabhoy, Mariam Dwedar, and Naiti Gamez is almost jarringly intimate as we move between moments of tension and challenge, joy and celebration.
Loira Limbal clearly has a cinematic voice that needs to be heard and her nomination in the 2021 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Breakthrough Creative is well deserved. You can't help but look forward to Limbal's work for years to come.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic