Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Fri Oct 3 2008Lance Hammer’s debut feature as writer-director first made waves at Sundance in 2008 before impressing festival audiences in Berlin and London. Given that so much US ‘indie’ cinema of the last few years has been vapidly lighthearted fare of the calling-card kind, it’s perhaps inevitable, as well as regrettable, that it’s taken so long for this genuinely bold, dark, honest film to get a release.
The laconic but very eloquent first quarter-hour is quite stunning, swiftly and deftly depicting the events which set up the situation explored in the rest of the movie: on the edge of a small town in the Mississippi delta, Lawrence (Michael J Smith Sr) shoots himself following the suicide of his twin brother Darius, but thanks to a kindly white neighbour (Johnny McPhail), medics arrive in time to save his life. For Darius’s death affects not only Lawrence but his neighbours: James (JimMyron Ross), a 12 year old who has stolen Lawrence’s gun, and his mother, Marlee (Tarra Riggs), who’s determined to keep the boy out of the clutches of the local dealers.
Although the film never fulfils the promise of its elliptical, mysterious opening – the drama occasionally lacks momentum as it proceeds towards some sort of resolution – there’s no denying its intelligence, compassion and assurance. Most importantly, it rings true as a portrait of the lives of a handful of African Americans struggling to get by in the Deep South, partly due to the acting of the largely non-professional cast and partly because Lol Crawley’s brooding Scope camerawork is so effective in sustaining the grey, wintry mood of this study of grief, anger and reconciliation.
Author: Geoff Andrew