Tuesday, October 29, 2013

American Promise

In the documentary "American Promise," filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michѐle Stephenson train the camera on their son Idris and his friend Seun, two of the few African-American boys in their class at Manhattan's prestigious Dalton School.

Black girls seem to do well at Dalton, but black boys - smart ones like Idris and Seun - tend to have a harder time. The movie tries to explore why that is, and flirts with issues of identity (how it feels and what it means to be black in a sea of white), but lacks much insight or point of view. Its most touching moments are universal ones, as when Idris IM's a girl he's crushing on and gets smacked down ("g2g dinner"), or when Seun's younger brother dies in an accident and Seun's the one who finds him, or when Idris does well in his basketball tryout but, because of his height, is relegated to the junior varsity. The quality of the filmmaking improves over the course of the picture - literally, the images get clearer - but Brewster and Stephenson needed to turn over their fourteen years of footage to a judicious editor. There's no reason for "American Promise" to take two and a quarter hours rather than ninety minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment