The Overnighters is a remarkable piece of dramatic storytelling that is intimate and unsettling
Directed by Jesse Moss, The Overnighters has an electric narrative that builds and pulsates, until an ugly situation leads to the juxtaposition of two people.
On the surface, it's a film about the issue of broken men seeking refuge from a world of unemployment in the oil fields of North Dakota. In the town of Williston, fracking has become an oil gold mine with a millennial gold rush sending many men flocking to this thriving land of employment. It's a tough job during tough times, but these men know this is an opportunity they mustn't pass.
A compassionate man
The town in which this opportunity exists is small and cannot handle the overflow of new residents. Rent has skyrocketed in this part of America, with many resorting to sleeping in their cars or to seek shelter from Pastor Jay Reinke.
Reinke has started a project called 'The Overnighters' in his church, allowing these men a place to rest their heads and stay warm during the winter nights. Reinke is a man who sees good in people. He's a compassionate man with an understanding of the harsh environments in which his flock has come from. Reinke unravels their misdemeanours, giving them belief that they are— at heart— do gooders with potential to achieve. On the other hand, Reinke can be guilty of being too open hearted.
Embattled and under severe press from the neighbouring community, Reinke allows convicted sex offender Keith to stay at his family home, in fear that the local press may catch wind of him sheltering a registered felon. Convicted of statutory rape for having sex with his underage girlfriend, Reinke puts incredible faith in Keith by allowing him to live in his family home with his teenage daughters. Reinke begins to feel the pressure. The expectations of his family, community and the people he has helped shelter is beginning to wear thin upon his psyche. It's at this point in Moss' portrait, that an inflicting examination of social ethics and human morality begins to unfold.
a rigorous exploration
Moss captures the grit in a way that captivates your immediate attention. He does this by reflecting the harshness of setting and the devastatingly acrid reality of the situation against one another. The bleakness Moss portrays within the city of Williston, North Dakota reflects the brutal cynicism with frank immediacy.
The Overnighters can be seen as a rigorous exploration of the modern media landscape that has a ferrous appetite for the disastrous news story, which leads to an intoxicating stress being placed upon one man's conscience. But The Overnighters can also be seen a remarkable piece of dramatic storytelling that is intimate, unsettling yet wildly poetic during its closing sequence. It's a profound drama that is equally sensitive as it is relentless.