The Day Shall Come Review

The Day Shall Come
Preacher and wannabe revolutionary Moses (Marchánt Davis) promises to lead a small band of men in a race war while at the same time struggling to support his wife and children. When cash for a manufactured terrorism plot comes his way, mild-mannered Moses finds himself caught in a tense homeland security sting.

by Terri White |
Published on
Release Date:

11 Oct 2019

Original Title:

The Day Shall Come

Satirist Chris Morris’ second film has been a decade in waiting, after the award-winning, incendiary Four Lions. And it’s a film that was made almost entirely in silence, with very little known until its premiere at SXSW earlier this year. Morris, as you’d expect, would like The Day Shall Come to speak for itself. And the first thing you learn as it opens is that it’s “based on a hundred true stories”, a hundred true stories gleaned over months of research that apparently prove that truth is stranger and more surreal than any fiction Morris could ever craft.

The Day Shall Come

Miami-based amateur anti-violence preacher Moses Al Shabaz (Davis) is the leader of an eccentric local army made up of less than one fistful of followers. He also suffers from unspecified mental health issues that result in hallucinations and paranoia, including the belief that he can summon dinosaurs.

Marchánt Davis is simultaneously frustrating and charming and has a natural warmth that grounds the story.

He and his followers may be harmless — with the much talked-about race war being more like a bumbled battle preamble on horseback in improvised costumes — but they’re no match for an FBI thirsty for “the next 9/11” at any and all cost. “Next thing you know, the Statue of Liberty’s wearing a burqa and we’ve beheaded Bruce Springsteen,” says FBI boss Andy Mudd (Denis O’Hare), in a scene you hope is grossly exaggerated fiction but fear really, really isn’t. Anna Kendrick is on biting, hilarious form as Kendra Glack, the ambitious young FBI agent who doesn’t so much see an opportunity to nail a terrorist before they commit a dangerous crime as the chance to advance her career with a major sting under her belt.

Most compelling — staggeringly so, for a first-time lead film role — is Davis as Moses, who is simultaneously frustrating and charming and has a natural warmth that grounds the story, even as Morris and co-writer Jesse Armstrong send it off in increasingly fantastical and farcical directions. He’s more than ably aided by Danielle Brooks as wife Venus, who first attempts to save her husband and then herself as she realises his latest madcap scheme is spinning out of control.

Though parts are dense, compounded by a zippy runtime, the film is never allowed to become heavy-handed or didactic in the truths it dispenses, even when those truths get right to the heart of the structural injustice and racism that underpins American society. For ultimately, the truth as laid out by the film’s sobering finale is devastatingly simple and real: that the absurdity, not just of homeland security, but of the entire current political landscape, is far outweighed by the human cost paid over and over as a consequence.

A hilarious, unexpectedly heartbreaking farce that proves that Chris Morris is still a hugely important voice in telling the stories that we find hardest to hear.
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