This is the clearest contender from SIFF for my end-of-year favorites. Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal’s easy chemistry defines the stakes in this story of a man just three days from being off parole and the old friend who is putting his success at risk. It’s a story about friendship, gentrification, race and class, and how hard we must work to change our perspectives. The tension cranks up organically, but it’s also sharp and hilarious.
This worked better for me than for others, partly due to the depth I brought from the novel. A common criticism is the focus on Nivola’s character of Dovid; however, it would have benefitted from more, reflecting the deep roots the three had in the book, a strong, clear unit from childhood. Rachel McAdams was excellent, everything simmering under the surface, but she still felt miscast. Powerful for being a story about truths still undertold.
There’s a point in this documentary about the rise and fall of Elvis and the USA where I realized they were (essentially) never going to interview women. Ethan Hawke has as much screen time as all the women combined. There are flashes of insight (especially with the inclusion of voices like Chuck D) but it attempts to do two or three things (it was re-edited after the 2016 Presidential election) and doesn’t do them well.
The goal of this film seems to be: set the (presumably white) audience with the expectation that something terrible is going to happen to Tyler, not actually do it, and then have the audience sit with their disappointment that they didn’t get to see that violence happen.
What actually happened is that I grew increasingly anxious watching a drunken frat party. There’s a difference between wanting something bad to happen and worrying that it will.