(director/writer: Matthew Porterfield; screenwriter: story by Amy Belk & Porterfield; cinematographer: Shabier Kirchner; editor: Marc Vives; cast: Everleigh Brenner (Jessie),McCaul Lombardi (Keith), Imani Hakim (Candace), Jim Belushi (Carol), Brieyon Bell-El (Marquis), Tom Guiry (Aaron), Zazie Beetz (Courtney), Ashley Shelton (Kelsey), Maya Martinez (Aurora), Marin Ireland (Kate), Wass Stevens (Wasp), Kazy Tauginas (Gary), Alyssa Bresnahan (Elaine), Linda Cohen (Ladybug), Michael Rogers (Mom), Felix Stevenson (Mr. John); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: PG-R; producers: Ryan Zacarias/Jordan Mintzer/Gabrielle Dumon/Eric Bannat; Oscilloscope Laboratories; 2017)

A despairing slice-of-life drama set in the blue-collar suburb of Baltimore.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A despairing slice-of-life drama set in the blue-collar suburb of Baltimore, whose neighborhood gives us the film’s title. The Baltimore-based writer-director Matthew Porterfield (“Hamilton”/”Putty Hill”), from a story by him and Amy Belk, presents a grim narrative about the difficulty of going straight after released from a prison stint for low-level drug dealing.

The 24-year-old Keith (McCaul Lombardi) has been released from prison and living under house arrest for nearly a year with his grumpy retired steel mill widowed father Carol (Jim Belushi) in his modest Sollers Point bungalow. In the run-down community of mixed races, in an area rife with drugs and large unemployment (the local steel mill has closed) and people with hot tempers looking for action, Keith struggles adjusting to his new freedom, with his strained relationship with dad and with trying to find his niche in the world. Though many of his neighborhood friends are black, such as aspiring rapper Marquis (Brieyon Bell-El) and ex-girlfriend Courtney (Zazie Beetz), in prison he joined for protection a white-supremacist gang. Our marginalized young man has little energy to go straight, though he enjoys drawing and in a half-hearted way obeys his father’s wishes to learn a trade by checking out the Internet. When his house arrest ends, the old white gang calls on him to rejoin them, but he refuses. This doesn’t go over well with them and he tries to straighten things out with a visit to the terrifying white-supremacist leader. Things close in fast on him and he turns again to selling drugs on the street. In his readjustment time, Keith visits his decent grandmother (Lynn Cohen), two young women who work as strippers (Ashley Shelton and Everleigh Brenner), a thrill-seeking art-school student (Maya Martinez), and a heroin addict (Alyssa Bresnahan) hoping to go off drugs at a clinic.

There are no easy answers for our likable low-level drug dealer (likable until he continues making bad choices), in this opaque realistic indie that sets the picture for why even with a good support group it might still not be possible to get out of living a troubling life.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”