Gus Van Sant's debut Mala Noche is an interesting indie film that I overall liked. The plot about the relationship between the three main characters was well done and Tim Streeter's performance was quite good, as was the black and white cinematography. However, I thought the performances from the supporting cast were quite weak and I felt that the film had no real ending and this prevents me from rating this higher.
Would be a good double feature with “Stranger Than Paradise.” Both have that slightly woozy, street dirty feel, as well as that feeling of people, of friendship and hanging around. This one is more personal though, more poignant. I feel I connect on some basic level with Van Sant. I felt the same thing with “My Own Private Idaho” that I felt with this, that odd sensation of home, or being away from it.
Mala Noche is a beautifully photographed, evocative tribute to guys just barely getting by in the gay and gritty Portland neighborhoods of the mid 80s. It's interesting how Gus Van Sant returns from time to time to movies set in dark corners of Portland for interesting little slice of life movies. He does it well and it's a valuable contribution to cinema.