Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Gabriel Chavarria, Demian Bichir, Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, Melissa Benoist, Yvette Monreal, Eva Longoria, Montse Hernandez, Noel Gugliemi, Bryan Rubio, Cress Williams, Franck Khalfoun, Pepe Serna
Written by: Elgin James, Cheo Hodari Coker
Directed by: Ricardo de Montreuil
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some violence, sensuality, thematic elements and brief drug use
Running Time: 99
Date: 05/12/2017
IMDB

Lowriders (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Rock Cars

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This family drama is admirable for showing a culture that is tragically under-represented on the big screen, but the movie is so overwritten and simplistic that it comes across as almost condescending.

In Lowriders, Danny (Gabriel Chavarria) is a talented graffiti artist with troubles. His mother is dead, and his father Miguel (Demian Bichir) would rather have him working in the family auto shop, helping to make the coveted lowriders that are so important to their East L.A. Latino culture. Father and son's relationship is further strained when Danny is arrested for tagging a bridge, and must be bailed out.

At the same time, Danny's older brother, nicknamed "Ghost" (Theo Rossi) is released from a long prison stint; his relationship with his father is also strained, due to the father's past drinking problem. Ghost and Danny decide to enter own car in the big Elysian Park lowrider competition, against their father's legendary "Green Poison. When their father's car wins, it begins a chain of events that forces Danny to decide his life's true direction.

Rather than a tough, adult drama, Lowriders undercuts the intelligence of its viewers, and is pitched as if the audience needs absolutely everything explained and spelled out. In addition to Danny character narrating, the characters speak to each other as if they were all newcomers to this world; nothing feels quite real.

Director Ricardo de Montreuil attempts to add some authenticity with the wobbly, documentary-like camerawork, but it can't cut through the ultimately soap opera-like structure of the writing.

That said, the performances are still quite strong, especially the one by Theo Rossi (of Luke Cage); he has a scary, seductive streetwise swagger as well as an appealing vulnerability. One-time Oscar nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life, The Hateful Eight) is fine as well, as is Supergirl's Melissa Benoist, and a nearly unrecognizable Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives).

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