To demolish Lord Byron’s quote for the purpose of puerile criticism - ‘Night People shows stars and women in a better light.’ Set over one cold October night (it is hinted that it may be Hallowe’en) in Edinburgh, writer/director Adrian Mead’s feature debut follows the various adventures of five different groups of people. A disillusioned Catholic priest and a homeless ward, a female cabbie and her daughter in the grips of a petty criminal, a stupid dog thief, an elderly blind guy and a London bound runaway have their tales told with varying degrees of success. The trouble is that Mead and Jack Dickson’s script veers wildly from superb one liners (‘Do you know this wee lassie reeks of pharmaceutical grade cocaine?’) to terribly clichéd, cringy dialogue. The tone here is so uneven it is difficult to register more than passing interest for this menagerie of Auld Reekie gypsies, tramps and thieves, as they make their progress through the quiet hours toward inevitable redemption. It’s an unsurprising mistake to make, more experienced filmmakers, noticeably Jim Jarmusch and Anthony Asquith were unfooted by this format with Night on Earth and the excruciating 1963 Taylor/Burton vehicle The VIPs respectively.
That said, all the performances (by mostly unknowns) here are excellent and the film is ambitiously and inventively shot and edited on what was clearly a tiny budget, Mead’s name is doubtless one we will be hearing more of in years to come.