26 September 2023

Late Night

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Reviewed by Victor Rebikoff.

Director: Nisha Ganatra, FilmNation Entertainment, M 102 Minutes.

The exceptional Emma Thompson excels again in her latest role as Katherine Newberry, the late night host of a long-running American talk show until she receives word that she will be replaced due to dwindling ratings.

Encouraged by ailing husband Walter (John Lithgow –‘Interstellar’)to retaliate, Katherine recalls her all-male writing team to rewrite the show’s material while instructing her assistant Brad (Denis O’Hare –‘Lizzie’), to recruit a female writer after firing a writer.

Brad immediately engages Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling –‘The Night Before’) a former chemical plant employee as a writer with no relevant experience to mainly dispel the accusations levelled at Katherine for being a woman with a dislike for other women.

Determined to demonstrate to her co-male writers that she is not just an example of a “diversity hire”, Molly is resolute about helping Katherine revive her career and rejuvenate her show as a top rating late-night host.

Apart from competing with her all-white male colleagues, Molly’s major challenge is dealing with a difficult boss who dishes out directions like a schoolmaster to a classroom of children regardless of their feelings.

Molly’s ideas enable her to make real progress in modifying the host’s position on interviews and jokes through changing the program format and presenting Katherine as a person in tune with everyday women.

However when certain events arise unexpectedly – such as a serious personal drama that Katherine must face – Molly again provides the solution, knowing that it may result in considerable embarrassment for the late night host.

Ultimately Molly’s changes to the nightly program, especially Katherine’s overall approach to women, are later applauded by network president Caroline Morton (Amy Ryan –‘Birdman’) indicating to Katherine that she would no longer be replaced.

Not surprisingly Molly receives the most praise from Katherine and her staff, ensuring that the British host of the late night TV show retains her role and reputation.

This enjoyable comedic-drama of a tough late night TV host from Canadian-born director Ganatra (‘Cake’) is largely due to the adaptation of Kaling’s well-written script, despite her somewhat disappointing depiction as a member of Thompson’s writing team.

At the same time one cannot overlook the perennial performance of the talented Thompson, stealing the show once more in a production that takes a swipe at late night hosts mainly held by men.

Vic’s Verdict: 3 Stars

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