SXSW 2011 Film Reviews

96 Minutes

Narrative Feature Competition
D: Aimee Lagos; with Christian Serratos, Brittany Snow, Evan Ross

Undergraduate Lena (Serratos) is having a very bad day. Those don't seem infrequent in the world of lousy boyfriends, absent parents, daily violence, and classroom angst created by writer/director Lagos in this story of two pairs of young people and the choices they make on one fateful night. Serratos hits her mark every time here, particularly in scenes with the beautifully tense Snow as Lena's friend-of-a-friend Carley. The two are carjacked by high school boys Kevin (a wonderful, wretched performance by Jonathan Michael Trautmann) and his older cousin Dre (Ross), the honors senior and gangbanger who tries to stop the conveyor belt that Kevin has begun this night. Kevin and Dre's world is bleak with bully cops, school-day boredom, and Kevin's mother being woken to unwanted sex and beatings, and Kevin must prove himself in order to join Dre's family's gang. A surprise cameo by Hustle & Flow's Terrence Howard as the gang leader's chief operating officer brightens the screen for a time. Lagos' first effort, however depressing, is a fully gripping night world, a moment-to-moment film noir reminiscent of The Night of the Hunter.

Wednesday, March 16, noon, Rollins

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