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Jeri Jacquin

HBO has done it again and in a big, exciting way as THE NIGHT OF comes to Bluray and Digital HD this week.

Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed) is a young man living at home with his parents Salim (Peyman Moaadi), Safar (Poorna Jagannathan) and brother Hasan (Syam Lafi). His father is in the taxi business and Nasir, who likes being called Naz, is in college earning his degree in business.

He is invited to a party with some friends on the basketball team and can’t wait to go. Making arrangements for a ride, it falls apart and Naz takes his father’s cab. Heading toward the party he becomes lost as two guys jump in his cab thinking he is the driver. He asks them to leave and when a police officer shows up, Naz explains his light is out and he can not take fares.

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Some time later Andrea Cornish (Sofia D’Elia) jumps into his cab. Not sure what to do since she seemed distraught, Naz decides to take her where she wants to go. Back to her brownstone, he is surprised when Andrea invites him in. There they drink, indulge and spend the evening together.

Later in the evening, Naz wakes up to discover he’s on the floor of the kitchen. He goes upstairs to get his clothes and to say goodbye to Andrea. What he finds instead is horror and after a series of bizarre events, he is later arrested for murder.

At the precinct Naz is met by Detective Bill Camp (Dennis Box) who attempts to get the truth of what happened. The problem is that Naz can not remember what happened and Camp isn’t sure what to believe. Lawyer John Stone (John Turturro) appears and warns Naz not to say another word and that he would help him.

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After Naz is arraigned and pleads not guilty, he is sent to prison to await his fate. There he meets Freddy Knight (Michael Williams), a man who sees all, knows all and wants to take Naz under his protection. This is a turning point in Naz’s life as he decides how he is going to handle other wanting him dead.

As Stone begins to investigate the case he it is poached by big time lawyer Alison Crowe (Glenne Headly) and her assistant Chandra Kapoor (Amara Karan). Crowe convinces Naz’s parents that she will take on the case pro bono. That is what his parents want to hear since they taxi cab that brings in their income is impounded by the police as evidence.

When Naz enters the courtroom once again after being indicted, Crowe is thrown a curve ball when he refuses to plea-bargain and admit guilt for something he believes he did not do. Crowe turns the case over to Chandra who in turn enlists the help of Stone.

Now, Chandra and Stone work together to uncover what the police missed, look for witnesses the police didn’t and put a case together that Naz was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is a trial that either convicts an innocent man or keeps a guilty one where he belongs.

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Ahmed as Naz begins as such a character of innocents. Watching this character go through the chain of the law is edgy and hard. He may not always be forth coming about his past but he stands strong in saying he is innocent. Once in prison this wide-eyed young man is about to find out that being safe and staying alive means doing things he never thought possible. From beginning to end Ahmed is in this – well done!

Turturro as Stone is a character that just broke my heart to watch. Not only is his character considered nothing but an ambulance-chasing-deal-making lawyer but no one sees his suffering with eczema. I swear it just killed me to watch Stone feel as if he is not only a person ridiculed for his profession, but personally for something that isn’t his fault. Watching him try to make connections was so difficult proving once again to never judge a book by its cover. Stone is a smart man and Turturro portrays him smartly!

Camp as Box plays his role to the hilt as a cop coming to the end of his career; he can either go out fighting or go down sulking. Moaadi as Dad Salim believes in his son and isn’t going to let anyone stand in his way of doing whatever he can. Jagannathan as Mom Safar can’t keep her brain from stopping the thought that her son could be a monster.

Williams as Knight is a man who has the system working in his favor. From a television in his room to delivered food, this is a guy you would think everyone would want to know. The problem with knowing him is the price of his friendship can be very, very high.

Other cast includes Don Taylor as Paul Sparks, Afton Williamson as Wiggins, Joshua Bitton as Maldonado, Aaron Moten as Petey, Paulo Costanzo as Ray Halle, Nabil Elouahabi as Yusuf, Mustafa Shakir as Victor, Lord Jamar as Tino, Michael Buscemi as Steve, Lennie Loftin as Det. Lieberman, J.D. Williams as Trevor, Glenn Fleshler as Judge Roth and Jeannie Berlin as Helen Weiss.

HBO Home Entertainment has an extensive array of critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking programs found on Bluray, DVD and Digital HD. They have provided viewers with some of the most amazing programs with huge fan bases that include the shows True Blood, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, True Detectives, The Wire, Entourage and Game of Thrones. Launched in 1984, HBO is world wide in viewed entertainment in more than 70 territories around the world! For more of what they have to offer please visit www.hbo.com.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE NIGHT OF five tubs of popcorn out of five. Trust me when I say that you need to put aside an evening and plan to be up late because once you’ve started down this story you won’t want to stop until the very last. The story is filled with twists, turns, people, places, situations and tension to each and everything that happens.

The casting is nothing short of perfection with my absolute big nods going to Ahmed and Turturro. These are two of the most flawed characters in the story and yet they manage to understand one another in the midst of chaos which is exceptional.

I have to say that watching each of these characters transform with ever episode made my heart sink a little each time. There is a solemn grittiness in this HBO Limited Series piece and it shouldn’t go unnoticed by the viewer. Once the story gets past the lines of nationality, it goes deep into assimilation for sake of just living.

There isn’t a moment where the sun rises and you hear a choir of angels singing as an ‘ah-ha’ moments happens. Nope, that’s not going to happen here. Instead, the story gets darker and deeper into those in control, those who think they are in control and what the reality is for everyone involved. Just a truly solid piece of storytelling that will remain with me for quite a while.

In the end – one night changes many lives forever!

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