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East End Film Festival: Tonight And The People – Review

June 17, 2014

FestivalsFilm + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia

tonight and the people

The East End Film Festival has some crackers this year, mostly because of how wide-ranging the line-up is. There’s those that have stellar Hollywood casts like Chef and Palo Alto and then there’s films like this, Tonight and the People which have come out of nowhere.

Neil Beloufa’s first feature after several award-winning short films is a bit of a mixed bag. Set in a fictional far-west American town, Tonight and the People has a vast assortment of severely stereotypical characters from cowboys to shallow, wealthy teenagers and deeply repulsive hippies. All are on the brink of something important and all will come together to see it unfold, but prior to this, they chat about how both them and their world are affected by politics and society’s prejudices etc etc. The various conversations are apparently deep but quite frankly I have far more riveting discussions with my mates down the pub on a Saturday night.

Whilst this is supposed to be a soap opera of sorts – think Days of our Lives meets Hollyoaks as opposed to Easties, where ‘real’ people don’t actually exist, I can’t help but feel everything is just too intentional and far away from what Beloufa was originally trying to achieve. Is it supposed to be permanently ironic and actually really rather clever or just grossly contrived and self indulgent? I didn’t know whether to be slightly impressed or cry with anger and frustration.

Granted, this film improves after about an hour (the run time is 81 minutes). The young, wealthy teenagers remove themselves from attempting to soul search and instead talk in a far more realistic and less pretentious manner. They discuss homelessness and birthdays and for the first time I found some characters with a remote likeability.

Overall Tonight and the People is just not what I was expecting and I’m still really confused about what it was trying to achieve. Maybe I’ve missed something vital… Judge for yourself!

Tonight And The People screens tonight at 9PM at the East End Film Festival

Samuel Sims