Yesterday evening, we watched The Vast of the Night, and what a pleasant surprise it was.

One night, in a small New Mexico town, a girl who works at a local radio station and an older reporter boy listen to a recording of some strange noises. Through the radio and its listeners, throughout a single night, they uncover a series of sighting stories that, from clue to clue and radio testimony to radio testimony, bring them close to uncovering something big.

It has a distinctive retro soundtrack, and its beauty is the pleasure of the stories told. At the center of everything always remains the mystery the two protagonists try to investigate in one night, approaching the truth from testimony to testimony. A good part of the film lies in the classic elements of science fiction, namely the discovery (perhaps) of something from another planet; another part, however, is the creation of the overwhelming sense of excitement of two people from a small provincial town who increasingly feel they are part of something important.

The photography, lighting, and camerawork are stellar:

At the midpoint, Patterson wows with a tracking shot that seems to race a half-mile down a quiet street, take a left-hook through a parking lot, sprint through an ongoing basketball game, and zip up the crowded bleachers before plunging out of a window. It’s effective razzle-dazzle that will probably get the young Oklahoman hired to make something 20 times The Vast of Night’s budget. Yet, the ambition behind it is just as impressive – as is the crew’s creativity at spinning financial limitations into magic."
–Amy Nicholson, Variety.

“The Vast of the Night” is a small, independent, character-driven debut film that perfectly captures America’s province life in the 50s and cleverly leverages those atmospheres. Inventive and charming, it is also a homage to The Twilight Zone, The War Of The Worlds (the radio station name is WOTW), and others.

Serena found it slow, especially at the beginning. I can understand that: the first twenty minutes are a long walk-and-talk between the two protagonists, but oh boy, look the world-building (and camera work) happening right there!