Review by David Ferguson
Greetings again from the darkness. Being a teenager is challenging. You want to be grown up and independent. But when growing up means losing your dad to war and having to look out for your alcoholic mom, well being grown up can seem overrated. Such is the life of 13 year old Leroy.
Played by exceptional newcomer Elijah M. Cooper, Leroy is a sensitive boy who totes around a battered 35mm camera that has a cracked lens. He doesn’t know how the camera works, only that it feels natural to see the world through the viewfinder. Katie Lowe plays his mother, and she struggles to get through each day with the pressure of being a single mother while dealing with her grief. Most days her only relief comes from a bottle.
A minor scrap with the law puts Leroy in a Juvenile Detention Center, where his cellmate is an artist played by Shareef Salahuddin. Ironically, it’s while serving his time that he learns about being an artist … overcoming obstacles to create art. Once released, Leroy soaks up knowledge from an elderly neighbor (Joe Morton) who tutors him on the finer points of cameras and photography, plus the “magic” of film developing, the importance of light, and to guidance on shooting the truth.
Director Richard Raymond (SOULS OF TOTALITY, 2018 short), writer Curt Zacharias Jr (his first screenplay), and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke team up to create a terrific short film, and prove Leroy’s adage, “the busted up things have the best story.”