BEATS is a staggering gaze at the life of a young Chicagoan youth’s battle with PTSD. If you watch the movie trailers it isn’t necessarily clear, that is the central intrigue here. But I’m thinking that’s on purpose, because what’s presented here is a sad, deep, brutal portrayal of how many kids living within the city of Chicago are growing up with a lot of repressed, severe trauma. Gun play is as regular as Beats by Dre headphones in this film, and gang activity fills the outer corners of a pretty bleak film. The central themes and hope of this movie rest inside the mind of it’s most recent victim of gun violence. He’s played by Khalil Everage (Making his film debut), and Everage shines as a young man struggling to deal with the loss of his older sister. It’s been a while since Anthony Anderson has played a mostly unlikable character on screen, but his shamed artist manager is just that. A loser. A has-been. A man stuck reliving the ‘glory-days’ of his foray into the world of music. Rounding out the cast are Ashley Jackson (another newcomer), Evan J. Simpson, and Uzo Aduba (who plays Everage’s sister in the film).
BEATS is a strong story, woven together by a crisp, colorful sound design and production value perfectly balancing the life of August (Everage). The kid has talent, but can he learn to deal with his grief in a way that allows him to leave his house? And what about Romelo (Anderson)? Will he ever be able to get out of his own way? How much does his failing marriage really matter to him?
I give this film a A-. I really enjoyed it!
Check out the trailer below: