‘Night of the Kings’ Review: Neon’s Latest Acquisition Title is a Thrilling Ode to Storytelling’s Power [TIFF 2020]
Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2020 by Marshall Shaffer
Champions of art love to pontificate about its importance, especially during times like a pandemic. But that rhetoric might ring a little hollow right now. However, it’s not an exaggeration to say that humans as a species are hardwired for storytelling. There’s science to back up the capability to narrativize our experience as necessity, not merely a luxury. As innate as our impulses for violence and destruction is our drive to create and narrate.
This becomes all too apparent for the young man dubbed Roman (Koné Bakary) in Philippe Lacôte’s Night of the Kings. Within the film, he must become a Scheherazade of the modern carceral state, spinning an engrossing and open-ended yarn to secure his own survival. Lacôte captures something special about the very nature of oral storytelling with his nested narratives. Roman’s imaginative biography envelops and transforms the inmates around him, but the very act of telling the story out loud also changes himself.