Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: J. Mallory McCree, Octavia Chavez-Richmond, Raquel Castro, Julianne Nicholson, Denis O'Hare
Written by: Matthew Newton, Kate Ballen
Directed by: Matthew Newton
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 89
Date: 03/31/2017
IMDB

From Nowhere (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Citizen Gyp

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Matthew Newton delivers an earnest drama whose lack of technique is superseded by its highly relevant message, underlining the plight of undocumented teens and the tough realities they face.

In From Nowhere, three promising high school students, Moussa (J. Mallory McCree), Sophie (Octavia Chavez-Richmond), and Alyssa (Raquel Castro) are all undocumented immigrants, attending a tough Bronx high school, just trying to fit in or survive. Moussa's family has trouble paying the rent, while Sophie deals with quasi-abusive relatives.

Their teacher, Jackie (Julianne Nicholson), sends them to an immigration lawyer (Denis O'Hare) in the hopes of getting them into college and giving them hope for the future. The lawyer informs them that what really counts is how deadly their home countries were. During a chat with Moussa's mother, Jackie discovers that Moussa may have the key, but pride and duty still might get in the way.

From Nowhere consists of mostly medium-distance talking scenes, the hand-held camera constantly wobbling slightly at the edges. The very few would-be dynamic moments include a near-altercation with the cops and a near-attack by an abusive relative.

The serious, important tone doesn't help, but the strong performances and vivid characters do help. It's possible at times to assume that this is a documentary about three real teens and their real struggle. Octavia Chavez-Richmond is especially compelling, wearing a permanent frown, and, when possible, a hooded coat to protect herself from any kind of emotional invasion. Julianne Nicholson is wonderful as the helpful teacher, bending the rules a little, and Dennis O'Hare lends some acerbic notes of harsh reality as well as some surprising compassion.

Seen by the right people, this movie has the power to open a few eyes and change a few minds.

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