A coming-of-age story about two inner city boys who are left to fend for themselves over the summer after their mothers are taken away by the authorities.
Set during a sweltering summer in the Brooklyn projects, two young boys, Mister and Pete (Skylan Brooks & Ethan Dizon in heart-wrenching but compelling performances) have to learn to survive on their own after the authorities take away both their mothers for being prostitutes and junkies. Overlooked by the police, the boys manage to stay in Mister’s apartment, scavenging for food and doing absolutely whatever it takes to survive. Initially, Mister feels burdened down by the younger Pete, who looks up to him like a big brother but slowly, they form an extraordinary friendship and it’s what both of them need, more than anything. The movie does not shy away from the hardships the boys and indeed, the people around them go through because this is real life. They stand on a street corner with a sign saying NEED MONEY FOR FOOD and the sad thing is, they mean it. They’re not there just to make a quick buck off sympathizing passer-bys, they have no money, no parents, no food and they are determined to stay alive.
The worst part about watching a movie with kids in it, is that sometimes, the kids can come across as precocious or just plain annoying. Not the case here. Both young actors are mature beyond their years and as I watched the story unfold, I realized that they were wise old men trapped in a young body. They learned how to survive long ago because although they lived with their mothers, the mothers had already abandoned them. They were too busy selling their bodies for drugs and food and rent and never paid the boys the attention they needed so instinct took over. Survival. In one heart-breaking scene, Jennifer Hudson (in a small but pivotal role as Mister’s mother) is getting ready to inject herself with a syringe and tells Mister to go outside, thinking she’s protecting him. Having seen her inject many times before, he looks at her with disdain and tells her “You’re disgusting, I wish you would just die already.”
She turns to him and with sadness in her eyes, says “At least we got that in common.” As Mister and Pete live day to day, they both realize that no matter how hard things are for them, they’re not the only ones with problems. Friends, neighbors, anybody and everybody, they all have issues and struggle with them every day. Mister also learns that adults can be just as fragile and broken as children and once he begins to reach out to other people and trust in them and most importantly, find forgiveness, things start to improve, just a little. At times this can be very difficult to watch but the performances by all involved, especially the two young leads, make the whole affair worth while. The screenplay by Michael Starrbury is compelling and always engaging and director George Tillman Jr. crafts a beautiful but at times, harrowing movie that I for sure, won’t be forgetting any time soon. Highly recommended.
In theaters October 11th
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