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dir Youssef Delara, Michael D Olmos
scr Youssef Delara
prd Amir Delara, Youssef Delara, Michael D Olmos, Mico Olmos, Edward Rios, Khoolaid Rios, Victor Teran
with Gina Rodriguez, Lou Diamond Phillips, Edward James Olmos, Jenni Rivera, Chrissie Fit, Braxton Millz, Joseph Julian Soria, Chingo Bling, Noel G, Emilio Rivera, Jorge Diaz, Baby Bash
release UK Apr.12 slf, US 19.Apr.13
Call me Filly Brown: Rodriguez
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
There are rather too many searing themes in this uneven Los Angeles-set Hispanic drama, which mixes the criminal underworld with the rap music scene. The plot is in need of major surgery to make it less overwrought, and a few dodgy performances don't help either.
Majo (Rodriguez) is a talented but angry young woman, a rising-star rapper using words written by her mother Maria (Rivera), who's serving a 10-year prison term. But Maria needs money for an appeal, and it's taking too earn serious cash. So Majo takes some shortcuts, including a small-time heist and signing with two fast-talking promoters (lowlife Bling and big-time Noel G), losing her partner DJ (Millz) in the process. Meanwhile, Majo's little sister (Fit) is seeing a slimy rapper (Soria), and their father Jose (Phillips) is struggling to get his own career off the ground.
Each character has so many obstacles to overcome that it's a bit exhausting to watch, especially as everyone constantly reminds Majo that her mother has brought nothing but trouble to the extended family. Her kindly lawyer (Olmos) seems ineffective, and as events spiral out of her control, the script seems to forget key details, throwing the characters into sticky situations to demonstrate their oppression at the hands of a wealthy society.
While the filmmakers have an important point to make, they unsubtly hammer it home through drama, drugs, violence, dirty dealings and manipulation. But it's impossible not to notice that in this script it's the Hispanics themselves who are causing problems for their own community. Everyone is determined to make a quick fortune, no matter what it takes, so none of them are being true to themselves or their people.
These mixed messages muddle everything about the film, which drags as each story strand cycles through highs and lows that make the final act feel far too tidy. And while Rodriguez holds the film together with a passionate central performance, ably supported by icons like Phillips and Olmos, some side actors let her down by playing scenes far too obviously. And in the end it's this mistrust of the audience that undermines the film's punch.
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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