My Nights Glow Yellow is a fantastic look at the vulnerability of being alone and the need for some form of connection. Hannah Bang’s film asks the audience questions about our own social interactions. It’s an impactful short you need to watch.
Kacie is a professional friend working for the company Platony. She joins clients at whatever they feel they need a friend at. Be it to hang out in the park with someone, have a takeaway meal with another, or even attend birthday parties with someone, she is there and plays her part. What happens when a client wants to be a friend off the clock?
As My Nights Glow Yellow starts, you can feel the awkwardness vibrating out of the screen; both Michael and Kacie do not have that connection or chemistry with one another; there is no smoothness to their interactions as they set the dinner, and you feel something is very off between the two. In a film full of little moments, your attention keeps getting caught by the interactions of everyone. It all becomes clear once we get that reveal of her “relationship” with Michael, and sadness washes over you. There is a realisation that there is a need for people to have this in their lives.
Kacie has a strong level of friendliness in every interaction; she is a professional, of course, so she will ensure that her clients have someone there. However, there is a distance that is always present. Even when she is at home with her housemate, you feel it. In a world that is increasingly becoming more online-focused, Hannah Bang is asking us if we as a society are losing our ability to keep a meaningful connection with another person? The need to have that connection is an important one for humans, even if it is accompanying someone to the supermarket to get your weekly food. Suppose you are even out and about and have an exchange with another person. Are you finding that those interactions are becoming increasingly awkward with each passing year? As if the pandemic accelerated our detachment from one another.
Bang ensures that the awkwardness continues to cringe-inducing levels with Michael and Kacie. Michael has crossed the line of being a client, and Kacie is clearly trying to work out her next step, even if what Michael is offering is out of politeness. It is here the performances shine, with Michelle Mao excelling as Kacie. You are cringing for her in that short interaction with Michael outside the restaurant and in the car. She wants to get home and relax but is stuck in such an awkward situation. These moments and her performance work so well because of how real they feel. They are understated moments with large implications, and Mao has us see that as clear as day with Kacie. You feel as if you can see the cogs moving in her mind as to what her best next step should be.
The film’s understated nature continues with the great pieces of framing and editing here in My Nights Glow Yellow. As Michael and Kacie chat about what he does with all his leftovers every time they eat, Michael eventually admits that he occasionally forgets about them. Then, we cut to a two-shot of the duo. Still, the camera is unnaturally high, showing us the rest of his living/dining room, which is quite untidy. It is a small decision but a very purposeful one. In one second, we get how Michael lives, how
Bang’s questions continue throughout the film, with her asking us about the boundary between customer and client. Can a relationship built on the exchange of money ever cross beyond that. Can Kacie even accept something like the food the elder client at the grocery store offers her? It works so marvellously well that you try putting yourself into Kacie’s position. What would you do when a client becomes too personal. Especially when you know they are just that desperate for a connection with another human.
The need for connection is so inherently strong with humanity that you understand why people do what they do here in the film. You even understand why Kacie, someone who lives a sparse life, is so willing to do this as a job. It doesn’t hold sustainable hours, etc., but it gives her that chance to connect, to be around another person and not just stuck in your own head. She has her housemate at home, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting more.
While you can guess the ending of Kacia’s story as it feels slightly telegraphed, but that doesn’t stop it from being just as impactful. By being around Kacia, we have created this vision of her and her personal life. Yet when has ever assuming what someone is like out of their work environment ever rang true?
Hannah Bang has given us fully fleshed characters and a terrific idea in My Nights Glow Yellow. Michelle Mao is brilliant and has you feeling for her more and more as the film goes on, and with a solid and impactful ending, it is a short that says an awful lot more about our society than we would like to admit.
Watch the film below!
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