Jesse Moss’ outstanding and arresting Sundance award winner, The Overnighters, has rightfully earned all of its comparisons to being a modern day Steinbeck story. This tale of one boom town in modern America bursting at the seams is proof that a new Great Depression is here whether some folks care to admit it or not.
Transient workers without homes have been flocking to the sleepy hamlet of Williston, North Dakota to hopefully find work in the town’s burgeoning fracking industry. It’s here that Pastor Jay Reinke has allowed the homeless to stay in his Lutheran church and in the parking lot outside while they search for jobs. It puts Reinke and his family at odds with his congregation, local church authorities, and the town at large for often harbouring people who previously committed dangerous crimes.
Gorgeously photographed and without a wasted dramatic moment, The Overnighters looks intensely upon a complicated macrocosm of religion, commerce, Christianity, punishment, honesty, and pride within one community’s growing pains. The NIMBY-ism can be a bit much, but sometimes it’s somewhat founded. Moss also explores Reinke’s true nature to see if there isn’t anything he or the church’s temporary residents are hiding. It’s rich and remarkably complex, leading to a conclusion that I doubt anyone could adequately see coming and that shouldn’t be spoiled for anyone.
It’s a must see.