Reviews TV

Based on True Events, ‘I Am The Night’ is a Slow-Burn Crime Drama You’ll Have to See to Believe – Review

Patty Jenkins and Chris Pine collide once more after their past work on Wonder Woman. This time, however, the two talents come together in a mini-series on TNT based on Fauna Hodel’s memoir, One Day She’ll Darken. It began as a quest to find out the truth about her family, but Fauna’s journey leads her down a much darker path than she’d expected. Having to make her way to Hollywood, Fauna finds herself mixed up with one of the main suspects of the Black Dahlia murder – one of Hollywood’s most notable unsolved crimes.

India Eisley as Fauna Hodel and Chris Pine as Jay Singletary in I Am The Night (Courtesy of TNT)

The mini-series begins with Fauna (India Eisley) in her day-to-day routines. She attends school, goes to work and goes home to spend time with her mother, Jimmy Lee (Golden Brooks). However, upon finding out that Jimmy Lee had been hiding the true nature of her origin story, Fauna sets out to find out about her birth parents. Of course, Fauna’s search for truth does not lead her down an easy path and has her world colliding with that of Korean War veteran, turned journalist Jay Singletary (Chris Pine). Having believed that George Hodel (Jefferson Mays) was the killer of the Elizabeth Short since the beginning, Jay is on a search to uncover the truth about George when he runs into Fauna. Together, the pair go through a series of ups and downs, twists and turns in this 6-episode mini-series.

As the show is only six episodes, there is a lot of subject matter to tackle within a short period of time. However, the series does a good job with incorporating a bit of everything in such a short time frame. With the tumultuous 1960s as the backdrop, the series not only deals with Fauna’s story, but also touches upon race in America and corruption within the police department. Not only is the series carried by compelling subject matter, but it shies away from any subtleties. The series is smart and most certainly makes the audience think – it’s hard to tell just what will happen next and what has yet to be uncovered.

Although it’s a slow-burn for the first few episodes, the dramatic flare and mystery really pull the audience in, and will have them invested in just what will happen next. It’s not often that we get a series with such depth in its storytelling and acting, and this is where I Am The Night truly shines thanks to the stellar performances of the cast. Every single cast member really leans into their respective roles and truly brings something special to the show.

Golden Brooks as Jimmy Lee in I Am The Night (Courtesy of TNT)

Eisley is believable as the young girl trying to find her family and her way, and Pine is superbly relatable as the down on his luck reporter who is trying to get his biggest story seen by the world. However, the standouts for me were Brooks as Jimmy Lee, Mays as George Hodel and Connie Nielsen as Corinna. All three actors are in supporting roles and therefore have less screen time than Eisley and Pine, but the trio certainly makes the most of their supporting parts. Whenever Brooks and Nielsen are on-screen, it’s hard to look away as their compelling performances are superb. Brooks channels the emotions (sadness, anger, hurt) of Jimmy Lee perfectly, while Nielsen takes on the role of the mysterious Corinna with ease. Then we have Mays who certainly plays up the dangerousness (and creepiness) of George Hodel to perfection. He’s really good – maybe even a little too good, as I often found myself thoroughly disturbed whenever his rendition George Hodel was on-screen. Mays truly created a great portrayal of the frightening doctor.

While the series is not the first to put the Black Dahlia murder at the forefront of its subject matter, it does offer a different take on the story, from a perspective that’s not been touched upon. Based on Hodel’s memoir, I Am The Night varies in that the mystery doesn’t solely revolve around the killing of Elizabeth Short and adds another layer to George Hodel’s depravity. Clearly, the show has taken some artistic licenses to add more drama to the already stirring story, but tonally, it works. Created by Sam Sheridan, with directing duties superbly tackled by Patty Jenkins, Victoria Mahoney and Carl Franklin, I Am The Night brings together many great twists and turns for all its watchers.

I Am The Night premieres January 28 at 9 p.m. EST on TNT. Be sure to check it out!

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