Banks’ Bold Feature Debut Is Captivating [Sundance]

Feb 22, 2023

Home Movie Reviews Young. Wild. Free. Review: Banks’ Bold Feature Debut Is Captivating [Sundance]

Packed with humor and great chemistry among the leads, Young. Wild. Free. lives up to its name, seducing its viewers into its wild ride.  

Emmy-nominated writer, Thembi Banks (Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building) brought her first project, a short film called Baldwin Beauty, to the Sundance Film Festival back in 2020. This year, she returns for her feature directorial debut, Young. Wild. Free., which follows Brandon (Algee Smith) as a struggling high schooler and artist who dreams of being freed from his overcomplicated life. A modern day take on Bonnie and Clyde, the film sees Brandon cross paths with the fiery and confident Cassidy (Sierra Capri), whose zest for danger appeals to him in peculiar ways. Packed with humor and great chemistry among the leads, Young. Wild. Free. lives up to its name, seducing its viewers into its wild ride.

Brandon is a typical high schooler with big problems. He’s just been let go from his job at Burger Bang, and he’s struggling with his academics. In addition, he cares for his two younger siblings as his mother Janice (Sanaa Lathan) often drops the ball with her duties. Brandon often uses his art as an escape from the limitations of his mundane life. But when the alluring and confident Cassidy enters the picture, the pair take on the Bonnie and Clyde mantel, making their way down an increasingly risky path of self-destruction.

Related: All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt Review: Jackson’s Debut Is Visually Magnificent [Sundance]

Thembi Banks’ energetic and courageous feature debut contains an underlying leitmotif that seems to be an ongoing theme at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Contextualized through Brandon’s experiences, Banks explores Black mental health with style and conviction. When viewers first meet him, he’s getting fired from his job due to an altercation with a coworker. The dream sequence that follows indicates that Brandon suffers from anger management issues. Perhaps that’s due to his big responsibilities at home, in which he often acts as guardian to his younger siblings and parent to his mother Janice. Either way, his coping mechanisms are unhealthy, and Banks acknowledges this throughout.

Intrigued by the free-spirited Cassidy after several exhilarating encounters, Brandon begins to experience a new lust for life. These moments come with exuberant cinematography that accentuates the beauty of Los Angeles landscapes. Additionally, it provides opportunities for Smith and Capri to unleash their torrid chemistry with infectious performances capable of generating approval of their romance. But underneath it all, Brandon still buries his anxieties as shown by soft blackouts and frequent trembling. In these moments, Brandon’s mental health issues become hyper-realized, foreshadowing an outcome that will surely send viewers into a frenzy.

The film doesn’t waste time sharing clear-cut answers; Young. Wild. Free. instead capitalizes on its suspense and thrills to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Budding frictions with Janice’s boyfriend (Mike Epps) are the reasons for these highly intense sequences that usher in feelings of discomfort and panic. Banks plays her directing cards well in these altercations, once again highlighting how Brandon, the current man of his household, feels as if he has to take on the world and his family problems alone.

Within the runtime of her bold and poignant feature debut, Banks provides a fun adventure between two broken souls, desperate to free themselves from their burdens. The visually-pleasing film takes its viewers down a path of contagious entertainment, providing a watching experience filled with exciting yet nerve-racking tension. Young. Wild. Free. sucker-punches its viewers with devastating realization in its final 30 minutes. With Banks’ unique storytelling and relentless emotional chaos, her film is bound to keep audiences talking throughout the year. And if this is what a debut looks like from the director, it’s easy to highly anticipate and welcome anything that comes next from her.

More: Past Lives Review: Celine Song’s Debut Is Soulful, Tender, Devastating [Sundance]

Young. Wild. Free. premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival on January 22. The film is 115 minutes long and not yet rated.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
Publisher: Source link

The Ghost Lights | Film Threat

NOW ON TUBI! Grab a six-pack of Shiner Bock and a Joe Ely western shirt as we head to Texas for writer/director Timothy Stevens’ well-constructed sci-fi thriller The Ghost Lights. Journalist Alex (Katreeva Phillips) arrives in Dallas for her father’s…

Mar 24, 2023

Unsettling Horror Film Thoughtfully Engages With Insecurity [SXSW]

Written and directed by Anna Zlokovic, Appendage is a grotesque body horror film with a powerful message. It doesn’t take long to get started, with the film quickly introducing Hannah (Hadley Robinson), an up-and-coming fashion designer with a plethora of…

Mar 24, 2023

National Anthem | Film Threat

SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! The debut feature film for first-time director Luke Gilford, National Anthem is a dramatic film of exploration, discovery, and love in the wild lands of the Southwest desert for Dylan (Charlie Plummer), who takes odd…

Mar 24, 2023

John Wick Chapter 4 Packs A Fast And Furious Punch

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into…

Mar 24, 2023