Indie movies. Some of them are done to perfection, and some of them fail and should remain out of the spotlight forever. This one was the former. Another movie based on a true story, this one told that story in wonderful detail, and raised all the right questions.
I almost didn’t get to see this one, because it seemed that Denver wasn’t going to be included in the list of cities for the “limited release,” but fortunately, I discovered a showing at my local theater and barely got into the matinee.
The story is about Oscar, a young black man with a girlfriend, a young daughter, and a past. He has sold drugs, been in fights, and was in jail for a while. But he’s out, trying to do better, trying to provide for his daughter, trying to be a good brother, son, friend, father. And throughout most of the movie, he honestly seems like such a good, caring, kind, well-meaning person that it’s tough to believe he could end up in jail or in a fight.
It’s a fairly slow-paced movie, to be honest, but not so slow that it’s detrimental or annoying to the viewer. Viewers like me who didn’t know the story behind the movie may be wondering, waiting, for the purpose to be revealed, but even without knowing, it’s not too much of a jump to the conclusion.
Getting into Oscar’s perspective, experiencing race, class, responsibilities, family, and work opportunities from his point of view was done so well. As a person primarily of European descent, it’s difficult to imagine how it feels to be feared by the people you pass on the street. It’s difficult to imagine how it feels to live in a world where you’re always the number one suspect when something bad happens. Stereotypes are broken down throughout the movie as we follow Oscar through that one fateful day on New Year’s Eve.
The acting, on all fronts, was perfect. Even the minor characters held their own. I’m sure everyone remembers Octavia Spencer from The Help, and has grown to love her for it, and she brings it again as Oscar’s mother in this movie. If Michael B. Jordan (I knew I recognized him, but I had to look it up–he played Haddie’s boyfriend Alex on Parenthood in season 2) doesn’t even get nominated for an award (I’m pulling for Oscar, but I’m not sure the movie has the steam to make it to February) this season, I will be extremely surprised and majorly disappointed in the Academy (though not for the first time).
It was a little slow, admittedly, but I’m not counting anything against it for that. Indie movies can be slow. The finances don’t afford as good editing quality as the big leagues. But the emotions, the reality, and the honesty behind it make it a beautiful film–painful, but beautiful. Well worth seeing if it’s showing in a theater near you.
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