Short Film Review “Wrath City”



First, the Recap:

Abject contempt. While we’ve made it so easy in this contemporary society to express how we hate any given thing, the truth remains that perpetrating such an atmosphere will only lead down worse roads and more conflict. When this escalates among people, anger turns so often to violence. Yet, how often do certain acts then go undeterred, undealt with, even ignored? It is daytime in Wrath City, and in the midst of growing chaos and constant accusations and arrests being reported on the local news, a separate yet related encounter is escalating for a young Haitian woman named Marie (Leica Lucien). Holding a local cop, Myra (Claire Elizabeth Davies) hostage, Marie has demanded her voice be heard.

Threatened with deportation, she has demanded to speak to a reporter so that her side of things can be expressed. With Myra’s disconcerted attitude also causing tensions to reach boiling point, the reporter, Malik (Sean Brown) finally arrives. As Marie’s story unfolds, Malik begins to see things from an even fresher perspective, despite his general notion that her sentence is still just under the law. Taking a break from his session, Malik runs afoul of both Myra and a former schoolmate turned cop Josie (Katie Scardino), both of whom he argues with about the state of affairs they’re all involved, ranging from race, equality, class semantics, freedoms lost, justice sought, voices needing to be heard, and minds needing to be changed.

Next, my Mind:

In all sincerity, what could be more relevant to mirror the consistent undercurrents of blatant hatred and division our country is facing now than writer/director/editor R. Michelle Cooke’s 22-minute dramatic short film effort that tackles the issues listed above full-on, with no apologies, and with a focused conviction that shouldn’t raise eyebrows, but rather stimulate the viewer’s way of thinking. We all have our opinions about anything and everything in this nation, but when there becomes a spurring on of utter loathing towards one group of people that in turn causes the spurning of another group, which then creates violence against one another, it overtly tears away the fabric of a country regardless of where the foundations of it all first started. The film hurtles along with intent and spirited drive in presenting its characters from all sides of the equation, bringing them together in a circumstance that ultimately reveals everyone’s point of view, wrong or right, and again, causes a shifting in thinking for at least one of them. The themes involving Black Lives Matter and police brutality are at the forefront here, but as stated above, the goal is to hit the nature of our mindsets, to see a people brought back together.

Lucien’s performance is impassioned and subtle at the same time in playing Marie, a young Haitian woman trying to make her way in life, and has done so, but now faces the reality of deportation back to Haiti in view of her recent unlawful actions. Yet, the more she shares her heart with Malik, it becomes truly clear that she not only wishes to stay in this country, but desires that equal rights be returned to its fiber. The innocence of her soul shines through, so to see she’s not someone who desires violence and unrest, but rather just a chance to see all people treated justly, even as the narrative reaches a potent finale. Lucien is solid throughout with the character. Brown is equally affecting as Malik, a grounded and idealistic reporter who has a clearly defined idea about right and wrong, especially given his initial reaction to Marie’s story. But, he then begins to take on a different demeanor once his interactions with Josie and Myra spark a need to make them understand his interpretation of Marie’s viewpoint and defense of it to make his own point about why things are the way they are. His reasoning is lucid, yet in the end, he is jolted back into the real world, reminded of how things are, all so well enacted by Brown.

Supporting turns are also effective from Davies and Scardino as cops who truly cannot see events transpiring or arguments being made beyond their uniform or even their race, choosing to try and justify actions and attitudes instead of really listening and taking into account what is happening and what solutions need to be engaged. Additional support comes from Alexander Nicosia and Sean Thomas Smith as less than savory police officers, as well as voiceover work from Mitch Hanley and Rama Rodriguez playing news reporters. In total, with its highly volatile but necessary subject matters presented with a no holds barred approach, “Wrath City” stands to make the statement it needs to, but in the creative, constructive, and hopefully impactful way as only indie film can.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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