Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jeremiah Bitsui, Morningstar Angeline Wilson, Carmen Moore
Written by: Sydney Freeland
Directed by: Sydney Freeland
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 94
Date: 02/27/2015

Drunktown's Finest (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Indian Giving

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by Sydney Freeland in her feature debut, Drunktown's Finest has some awkward, amateur moments here and there, mostly in some of the line readings and in some of the generic setups and payoffs of the plot. But Freeland's passion is deeply felt, and it's very refreshing to see the lives of American Indians portrayed onscreen with such sympathy. It's easy to forgive the movie its shortcomings and tumble headfirst into the lives of its characters.

In Dry Lake, New Mexico, three Navajo characters are struggling. "Sick Boy" (Jeremiah Bitsui) is about to leave for the army to support his pregnant wife (Elizabeth Frances), but can't seem to keep himself from drinking and getting into trouble. Nizhoni (Morningstar Angeline Wilson) lives with her adoptive, white Christian parents and is going to college, but wishes to learn more about her real family. And Felixia (Carmen Moore) is a transsexual living with her grandparents and earning money turning tricks; she dreams of being a model for the annual Women of the Navajo calendar. Eventually each character reaches a turning point and must make a decision as to who they are and where they're going.

The movie has a languid, hazy feel that allows for little moments spent with the characters, getting to know them. Jeremiah Bitsui, who had a supporting role on Breaking Bad, fares the best in his performance. Morningstar Angeline Wilson has a lovely, fresh-faced innocence, and Carmen Moore — a real transsexual — brings an appealing combination of self-awareness and self-value to her role. Overall, it's a good-hearted movie that you want to root for.

Best Buy Co, Inc.