The acting is amateurish at best regarding the way the lead character delivers his passion and lust for another man, but it all the more reflects just how desperate and lonely an average person is for what they can't have. Van Sant shows the visionary he was in experimental style and gives a haunting and bittersweet outlook on unrequited love and the shadow of cultural barriers that are chillingly relevant today.
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.