Time Out says
Lachapelle’s still photography is conspicuous for both heightened glamour and strong storytelling, neither of which is to the fore here. Instead he adopts a plain style to showcase an extraordinary phenomenon, and privileges record and testimony over the winner-takes-all challenge narratives endemic to contemporary US documentary features. Perhaps the most prominent individual is Tommy the Clown, a convicted dealer turned children’s entertainer who first promoted ‘clown dancing’ as a source of self-empowerment in 1992, and whose carnival-style make-up inspired the movement’s distinctive range of face-painting. (Striking – if uncontextualised – archive footage links krump’s decorations and moves with ceremonial dancing in tribal Africa.)
The undoubted stars here, however, are the dozen-odd kids Lachapelle observes (Miss Prissy, Baby Tight Eyez et al). The smart, ambitious and compassionate characters who emerge in interview contrast as greatly with the same kids’ fiery moves as they do with conventional stereotypes of ghetto-dwellers. Like Claire Denis’ ‘Beau Travail’ (or Ekachai Uekrongtham’s recent ‘Beautiful Boxer’), ‘Rize’ teases out fascinating connections between dance and fight, grace and violence, as intertwined forms of self-aggrandising display. The power of krumpness is clear.