(director/writer: Peter Andrew Lee; screenwriter: story by Lee, Ella Mische & Luna Del Rosario; cinematographer: Jamal Solomon; editors: Esteban Aburto/Emma Greenwell; music: Tom Bromley; cast: Princess Nokia (Eva), Jimi Stanton (Brendan), Erin Davie (Mary), Rosie Berrido (Altagracia), Stanley Simons (Conor), Sebastian Chacon (Ricky), Alejandra Ramos Riera (Patricia), Ivan Mendez (Julio), Bobby Plasencia (Mr. Nunez), Sandy Tejada (Luna); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Robin Rose Singer, Rabia Sultana, Ricardo Vilar, Peter Lee; Dark Star Pictures; 2019)
“Underwhelming cross-cultural Bronx romance between a white man and a Puerto Rican woman.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
In his feature film debut, Peter Andrew Lee helms an underwhelming cross-cultural Bronx romance between a white man and a Puerto Rican woman, as he shoots for tenderness in his bland boy meets girl story but can’t get out of the way of how familiar is his story. The Nuyorican rapper Princess Nokia (whose given name is Destiny Nicole Frasqueri) stars and gives a delicate performance in her acting debut (showing a promising future in Hollywood). It’s based on a story by Lee, Ella Mische and Luna Del Rosario, and is scripted by Lee.
We’re in the socially changing Bronx of 1993, where the 18-year-old high school drop-out Brendan (Jimi Stanton is a white youngster from the Kingsbridge section, a white working-class area transforming into a Latino area. He works in the deli section of a grocery store in the nearby Marble Hill section of the Bronx, a mostly Spanish neighborhood, as he’s the breadwinner for the family supporting his juvenile delinquent younger teen brother Conor (Stanley Simons) and their single-parent neglectful alcoholic mother (Erin Davie).
Eva (Princess Nokia) is Brendan’s girlfriend, meeting cute at the deli counter. The teenager comes from a close-knit working-class family consisting of single-parent mom (Rosie Berrido) and her handicapped, attention needing, brother Julio (Ivan Mendez). Eva is set to be a college freshman in the fall, and upon mom’s insistence will study accounting.
The cautious summer romance hits a bumpy spot when Brendan learns Eva aspires to be an actress and encourages her to go audition for a play. When she overstays a visit with Brendan and shows up too late to relieve mom of caring for her dependent brother, her mom lays into her and the devastated Eva decides to break-up with Brendan. He’s crushed and decides to keep his mind on work and keeping his brother out of trouble.
They’re a likable couple, but their story seems too safe to get worked-up over its broken love connection. But it seems like an authentic New York story, and goes into the Bronx turf that’s rarely if ever covered. It’s watchable as a low tone love letter to the Bronx even if it’s not Shakespeare.
REVIEWED ON 5/23/2020 GRADE: B-