“The Day Shall Come” marks the return of longtime British creative Chris Morris. The man behind news satire “The Day Today” and 2010’s “Four Lions” — a widely lauded black comedy about incompetent terrorists-in-training — returns to the big screen in full form.
Moses (Marchánt Davis) leads a religious community farm, where he preaches to a small congregation about black Santa and a life where men swap guns for horn-summonable dinosaurs.
When Moses gets evicted from his farm, FBI agent Kendra (Anna Kendrick) manufactures a sting operation to lure him to terrorism.
It’s a long shot, and the satire is thick with local police and FBI comparing badge sizes — literally down to the percentage — and their brainstorming who to target next.
“Brown is down, black is whack,” says one agent.
“Unarmed black man, unarmed white man, which one is more likely to have a gun?” says another agent.
Morris isn’t pouring salt on wounds and tensions as much as he’s attempting to cast a spotlight and air it out.
In mockumentary style, director Morris goes handheld often, the camera moving and zooming on screen. It feels rightly messy and scattered, like the characters themselves, and the direction and execution are on par with “Arrested Development” or “Veep” (another Morris credit).
While it’s heavy on satire, the slim moments of earnestness make for standout dramatic performances.
In his feature debut, Marchánt Davis well-balances playing the power of a leader and the childlike, non-threatening naivete of someone in over their head — attempting to pay rent in eggs, and to swindle the FBI by informing on the informants who are trying to frame him.
Danielle Brooks (“Orange is the New Black”) plays Moses’ wife, Venus, strong, grounded, with impeccable boundaries. This Tony-nominated actress is well-versed in heart-breaking execution in few moments.
Anna Kendrick has a mix of indies and bigger-name films, “Up in the Air,” “Rocket Science,” “Pitch Perfect.” She’s perfect at portraying competent, fast-talking characters, and this role was made for her ability and timing, and dramatic capabilities.
“The Day Shall Come” is based on the Liberty City Seven, a 2006 arrest and trial of members of a Miami-based religious group, accused of terrorism — whose terrorist contacts were bankrolled by the FBI.
In an interview with The Guardian, Morris said he never considered telling this as a documentary, it had to be fiction. “There’s a universal story at the heart of this film that’s quite hard to ignore. It doesn’t mean it’s going to work. But what can you do? You have to point things out,” he said.
This film is biting and funny, uncomfortable in its truth, as good satire should be. And the few earnest and innocently funny reprieves added a welcomed balance. This one’s not for everyone, but it’s so worthy for what it stands for, what it reflects and stirs.
And may Morris never cease to point things out.
Starring: Marchánt Davis, Anna Kendrick, Danielle Brooks
Director: Chris Morris
Writers: Jesse Armstrong, Chris Morris, Sean Gray, Tony Roche
Rating: Unrated, moderate profanity
Now showing: Zinema 2