A fresh glimpse at mil­len­ni­als

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - — Sheri Lin­den

Blend­ing scripted sce­nario, im­pro­vi­sa­tion and an in­vig­o­rat­ing doc­u­men­tary sen­si­bil­ity, Gar­rett Bradley’s de­but fea­ture ex­plores the strug­gles of three young adults. The im­pres­sion­is­tic re­sult, “Be­low Dreams,” is un­even but never clichéd.

At its ex­hil­a­rat­ing best, it’s a gritty and lyri­cal por­trait of lives that are too messy and ten­der to be summed up in con­sumer-cen­tric no­tions of the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion.

The writer-direc­tor peo­ples the film with a Craigslist-sourced mix of re­fresh­ingly un­fa­mil­iar faces. Her cen­tral trio’s ex­pe­ri­ences on the streets of New Or­leans share a place on the los­ing side of the coun­try’s grow­ing eco­nomic chasm: an angsty col­lege grad­u­ate (El­liott Eh­lers) who hopes to ren­dezvous with a girl he met in New York, a job seeker with a felony con­vic­tion (Ja­maine John­son), and a sin­gle mother of four (Leann Miller) who wants to be an actress.

From bus sta­tions to jazz con­certs, Bradley finds epipha­nies in public spa­ces, ex­pressed vis­ually, mu­si­cally and, in the way the prac­ti­cal en­twines with the philo­soph­i­cal, in dia­logue spo­ken by friends and strangers alike.

Bradley’s vi­sion comes to­gether po­tently in Ja­maine’s at­tempts to find his foot­ing and a pay­check. In two con­ver­sa­tions that are ac­tu­ally closer to mono­logues, Ja­maine lis­tens to his friends’ com­pas­sion­ate ad­vice, their lan­guage vi­brant with feel­ing. Af­ter a den­tal pro­ce­dure to re­move his grills and im­prove his chances at get­ting hired, Ja­maine stud­ies the gold pieces like some­thing fallen from a star, then checks out his new smile in the mir­ror. “Be­low Dreams.” No MPAA rat­ing. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 14 min­utes. Play­ing: Down­town In­de­pen­dent, L.A.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.