“Late Night showcases the challenges and rewards of human relationships, swimming upstream while fighting for what matters the most.”

Words Melanie Tito

“Late Night” is not a film to watch on a full stomach. It’s an invitation to inhale a banquet of satire, slapstick humour, high emotions, current issues and crushing elements of humanity in a mere hour and 42 minutes.

Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is a seasoned TV show host, radiant, frosty, and as shiny and cold as the gold Emmy trophies which decorate her office. She has been too complacent to realise the consequences of her ratings slipping over the last decade and is devastated when she finds out that she is about to be phased out. Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), a sweet-natured chemical plant worker with no television experience, gets hired as the first female, non-white writer on Newbury’s staff and does not make a good first impression. Newbury’s husband, Walter (John Lithgow) is long-suffering and supportive; one cannot help wondering if onset of Parkinsons is the only reason for the wistful look in his eyes.

It is difficult not to draw parallels between the characters of Katherine Newbury and Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”, however Thompson infuses her sassy, sharp-tongued, difficult lady boss role with a quick wit, effortless ease and radiance which cannot help but light up the screen; especially when offset against the sweet, over-eager persistence of Molly Patel, played by her co-star Kaling.

Aside from co-starring in “Late Night”, Mindy Kaling also wrote this as her first feature-length screenplay. It is a bold and ambitious effort, dipping unabashedly into such themes as aging, race, privilege, gender, workplace dynamics, “boys’ clubs”, stereotypes and infidelity – being careful to also include recent topical issues like #MeToo and diversity in the workplace. She has packaged it all beautifully with the appeal of beautiful clothes, a backstage look at a media/talk show environment, jokes which flow on tap throughout the movie, and an interesting cast. I do wonder though, if less might have been more.

No sooner does one twist occur before another arrives in quick succession, resulting in a sense of indigestion and a lack of time to feel any empathy that might otherwise have arisen. What could have happened if the film allowed more breathing space, character development and dared to believe that the audience might be more satisfied with a few less sub-plots? If Kaling intended to advocate for certain issues she certainly made her voice heard; however I would not go as far as to say that I walked away uplifted or enlightened by how the film unfolded and concluded.

This film will appeal to the humour of satire and talk show fans, but even if you are not one of these, it is an overall feel-good movie with good comic moments and snapshots of the world we live in. “Late Night” showcases the challenges and rewards of human relationships, swimming upstream while fighting for what matters the most.

Opens in Cinemas August 8th.