Written & Directed By: Deniz Gamze Erguven
Cinematography By: David Chizallet
Editor: Mathilde Van De Moortel
Cast: Halle Berry, Daniel Craig, Rachel Hilson, Lamar Johnson, Kirk Blatz, Douglas Spain
The life of a foster family in South Central Los Angeles, a few weeks before the city erupts in violence following the verdict of the Rodney King trial.
The film seems to want to examine the riots and the characters affected by them by giving s glimpse into the atmosphere and what it’s like for them before they happen. But what might have helped lead to them. Though in the end the film feels like it makes barely any sense.
One can understand if there was a major story going around in all of this. While the riots are in the background or it all came to a head with narrative behind it, but here it just seems so random at times that it just seems to be a major theme that never quite reaches the promise it could have. Then leads to a rather abrupt abstract ending. That has you in the audience wondering what happened?
For instance there is a sex scene dream sequence that makes no sense and seems to come from nowhere. Nor does it lead anywhere or is any kind of premonition about what is to comes.
Daniel Craig only seems to be here for a kind of star power and Halle berry as lead needs a partner of the same significance. As his role is essential but strangely added into the mix.
The film offers a teen romance angle that at least makes some sense and adds some Levity to the precedings. As Halle’s teen son is attracted to a struggling teen girls beauty. He see’s her anger based behavior as exciting at first, but is obvious to the audience that she might be trouble. Then when he gets jealous and feels betrayed by her and another teen boy that Halle’s character took in. He goes off impulse that leads to tragedy. Which is strange as the film builds him up to be a strong level headed hardcore that his actions seem extreme, plus after the film seems like it has no place to go. So we get what seems like filler until the ending where nothing is really resolved
As we have Halle Berry’s character who seems a liberal bleeding heart who is a foster mother and takes odd jobs to keep paying the bills and take care of her family. But often leaves the kids in the care of her teenage son. She is a selfless character who in trying to provide seems to be absent. So it seems like she is like the movie a storyline that is struggling to find a film to carry it.
The films opening is strong and offers plenty of intentions. The film does provide a lot of atmosphere and gives the viewer a lay of the land and surroundings. So that by the end you wonder what was this film and effort all about? It seems there is something there and somehow it got lost.
Which is a shame as this film is directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven who made such a string and powerful debut with the film MUSTANG Here the director does offer atmosphere and tone but seems to lack tackling the story. By the end you wonder what this was all for and about. As it could have been scene as a slice of life during the riots but takes so many strange directions that while linked they seem disconnected. That makes the film almost like a draft that needs to be completed to make more sense and bring it all together. As it could have easily been a tale of an outsider trying to learn of their new environment while this new environment deconstructs right in front of them