Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Princess Of The Row Review: A Heartfelt and Heartbreaking Coming of Age Story

Martin Sheen	...	John Austin Edi Gathegi	Edi Gathegi	...	Beaumont 'Bo' Willis Ana Ortiz	Ana Ortiz	...	Magdalene Rodriguez Jacob Vargas	Jacob Vargas	...	Donald Tabitha Brown	Tabitha Brown	...	Aunt Tammy Blake Michael	Blake Michael	...	Pete Jenny Gago	Jenny Gago	...	Carolina Tim Abell	Tim Abell	...	Junk Yard Owner Tayler Buck	Tayler Buck	...	Alicia Willis Jeris Poindexter	Jeris Poindexter	...	Street Cleaner Kelly Hancock	Kelly Hancock	...	Case Worker William Guirola	William Guirola	...	Veteran facility guard Anthony Jensen	Anthony Jensen	...	Philip Tori Griffith	Tori Griffith	...	Teen Girl Rigo Obezo	Rigo Obezo	...	Arresting Officer

Release date: November 27, 2020
Running time: 85 minutes
Starring:  Martin Sheen, Edi Gathegi, Ana Ortiz, Tayler Buck
Director: Van Maximilian Carlson
Writers: A Shawn Austin (as Alan Shawn Austin), Van Maximilian Carlson (as Max Carlson)

The inspiring tale of a runaway foster child who will stop at nothing to live with the only family she knows: her homeless, mentally-ill veteran father who lives on the streets of LA's skid row.  The Princess of the Row has a clear vision from start to finish that is communicated through it's subtle, yet powerful cinematography.  The film starts with some beautiful shots of the Bo and Alicia's situation, and it really does a wonderful job of making this relatively dire situation look amazing.  Along those lines, The Princess of the Row's production values are top notch, with the aforementioned camera work, some really good make up and costume design that let you fully experience what is happening, and some great musical choices that accent the story.  

A Shawn Austin	...	producer (as Alan Shawn Austin) Van Maximilian Carlson	...	co-producer (as Max Carlson) Davy Duhamel	...	executive producer Morgan Freeman	...	executive producer Edi Gathegi	...	producer Haley Lannon	...	line producer Lori McCreary	...	executive producer Kirk Palayan	...	executive producer
The story of this film is a coming of age plot where Alicia is torn between loyalty and love for her father and what is best for her.  It is a heartbreaking story and one that leads to some intense scenes and situations.  And these are made all the more poignant by the wonderful cast of this film.  Martin Sheen gets top billing--and he was a great character in this film--but the real breakout stars are Gathegi as Bo and Buck as Alicia.  Both put forth emotional, convincing performances.  Gathegi completely transforms into Bo, with a detached mannerism and unpredictable mental state.  But occasionally, his character will "come back" and be the father that Alicia so desperately wants.  These scenes especially pull at the heartstrings and make you root for the pair despite everything that is going against them.  And Buck is likewise amazing as Alicia, who has to play a strong and detached girl who is forced to grow up well before she should be.  And Ortiz as her guidance counselor or look out is another great choice, a caring but overworked caretaker for the young ward who has no desire to be in a home situation.  Together, these characters come together to tell a loving but complicated story where nothing is quite right.  

And the story of the movie is poignant and heartbreaking.  Seeing a family that wants to be together but often times can't is tough to watch, as is seeing "the princess" and her dreams against the reality of her situation.  Also seeing various people's reactions to someone who has mental issues, and someone who should be getting more personal care, is another heartbreaking aspect. 

As I said, the film is beautifully shot and makes some mundane situations looks stellar.  However, the beautiful cinematography does have a downside to it.  The story and amazing camera work have a tendency to subconsciously glorify what would be a dangerous situation.  I don't think that it was done intentionally, as the messages of the film itself tend to counteract this, but it is something that was a little off putting to me.  But don't let this minor criticism dissuade you from checking out this heartfelt and heart wrenching story.  And that is not to detract from the setting of this film, which was shot in downtown LA's notorious skid row.

The Princess of the Row is a heartfelt and heartbreaking coming of age story with phenomenal characters and performances, beautiful cinematography, and plenty of intensity and emotion.

Watch it.

family drama coming of age mental health war veteran mental issues homeless homelessness skid row

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The Princess of the Row is available digitally and on demand November 27, 2020.

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