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SXSW 2019 Review: ‘The Day Shall Come’

SXSW 2019 Review: ‘The Day Shall Come’

Written by: Peppur Chambers

From the beginning, The Day Shall Come is confusing AF. If you get lost from the beginning, you’re left with, “What the hell is going on?” Like a chemistry or catechism class, there is that inevitable moment where a light bulb of some sort goes on and you’re like, “Ohhhh.” Such is the case with The Day Shall Come written beautifully by Brits Jesse Armstrong and Christopher Morris and directed intelligently by Morris.

In what will surely be his breakout film role, Marcnt Davis (Moses Al Shabaz) is a would-be, anti-violence revolutionary who is the “Sultan” of his self-made farm, “The Star of Six Farm” in an unlikely place — the Miami projects. Moses is also a humble family man; dedicated to his wife Venus, played endearingly by powerhouse Danielle Brooks and their young daughter Rosa (Calah Lane).

The farm is in dire-straights as evidenced by just about everything (home-made militia gear, two sorry chickens, and a looming eviction notice). Yet, Moses’ “army” of three, Farmer Afrika (Andrel McPherson), Farmer Pure (Curtiss Cook Jr.) and Farmer X (Malcolm Mays) remain loyal followers for reasons that are sometimes and hilariously unclear. As former drug dealers looking to reform themselves and the system, perhaps they merely need something to believe in, and their leader Moses provides this for them with purity and grace.

Some of the best moments of the film are during the army training sessions Moses leads his men through; the honesty with which McPherson, Cook, and Mays carry out their mission is endearing and refreshing.

Moses is openly anti-gun, anti-violence; the revolution will come. Peacefully. So, when a stranger comes knocking with an offer to help the revolution that includes $50k and guns, is when Venus, his rock and reality barometer, draws the line and leaves with their daughter to stay at her sister’s. Vulnerable and desperate, Moses is lured by the stranger, who just happens to be an FBI Informant named Reza (Keyvan Novak).

Enter Anna Kendrick’s hot-head Kendra, an FBI agent who complicates things royally. Fueled by wanting a promotion and saving face in the midst of the misogynistic and moronic boys club that is her FBI team, Kendra must find a way to get her man. (Kendrick is well-suited for this role that not only must stand her ground against men who do not respect her, but also experience a private vulnerability in the resounding effect of her actions.) With some quick talking and a few crack-pot directives, Moses conveniently becomes a terrorist. A scapegoat. A target. A threat. 

Even when there is absolutely none.

This is where things start to get confusing, which goes along with the premise of a lie. Things can get confusing when the truth is whiplashed by lies. Reza has to convince Moses to buy the guns, so he brings in his Middle Eastern uncle Nur Ad-Din (Pej Vahdat) who offers cash for people building armies. Nur Ad-Din is also an informant. Meanwhile, the guns and greenbacks operation fails and another facetious and convoluted ploy is devised. This new plan ends with disastrous results. The Day Shall Come begins to resemble a who’s on first, Carol Burnett-esque cat and mouse mystery who-dunnit unleased to trap Moses.

Morris has stated that The Day Shall Come is “based on a hundred true stories.” Meaning, there are hundreds of stories he has researched that depict Operation Grab Moses. Whether Morris purposefully intended to make this story so convoluted as a means to make commentary on the inadequacy of the FBI, and his perceived (and researched) notion of the organization creating terrorists rather than finding them, is a question that could use an answer.

At times, The Day Shall Come feels like an episode of The Office with its quick pacing, off-beat humor and choppy editing; the only thing missing is the imploring, dead-panned looks straight-to-camera. Perhaps this is because both Morris and Armstrong are British, and as we know, The Office was originally a British format.

However, while the film so perfectly nails the humor both in the juxtaposed FBI settings and on The Farm, one starts to wonder if British humor, when applied to a horrifying topic as serious as this, is the right vehicle. Because at its core, this film seems to be more about Black Lives Matter than Morris’ intended terrorism and homeland security farce, and that is as serious as a heart attack.

Since the film is done so well, and the talent is so on point and handles each turn Morris has given them, it is questionable if The Day Shall Come shouldn’t be the follow up to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled because Black lives are at the exploited center of Morris’ mad, mad, MAD world.

In all seriousness, Morris, known for his absurdist style, may not have simply used Black folks as the token tool to make a point; he may be the smartest tool in the box and just taught a real-time history lesson.

The Day Shall Come is a farce to be reckoned with.


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Peppur Chambers is a Midwestern Girl Out for a Twirl. Check out her debut novella Harlem’s Awakening on Amazon. Read her blog where she tells stories of heroes, including her own. And learn about her sultry, sassy, sophisticated women’s empowerment movement on IG/Twitter: @peppurthehotone

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