September 21, 2015

Five Star (2014)

Five Star (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Keith Miller
Country: USA

Movie Review: Presented as a low-key fiction-documentary hybrid, “Five Star”, stars James ‘Primo’ Grant, a real member of the Brooklyn’s gang Bloods since the age of 12, who playing himself, might gain some sympathy from some viewers, even considering that this type of characters are usually seen as ruthless and despicable when portrayed in movies. A real life environment, in which we see the protagonist doing multiple jobs, such as security or bodyguard, in order to provide for his family, may do the trick. The film starts with a long shot of Primo talking about his family and how he missed the birth of his beloved son while he was locked in a prison. He says he promised his kids to never leave them again. Back into the vicious streets he knows as the palm of his hand, he proceeds with the illicit business, always honoring the agreements made and demanding respect (the word we hear the most) from the clients as well as from his own members. As he decides to be a better father and husband, he’s also willing to give an opportunity to John Diaz, who learns the codes and culture followed by the gang. John is a difficult teenager whose father, Primo’s mentor, was killed by a stray bullet. Even respecting his good mother very much, John doesn’t hesitate to refuse a job in a local supermarket to accept the offer of Primo who keeps insisting that in his ‘business’ there’s no room for mistakes. There’s no need to say that problems arise when John is assigned with his first package drop-off. Director Keith Miller (“Welcome to Pine Hill”) deliberately leaves ambiguity hovering in terms of what is fiction and what is real, as the film runs at an unhurried pace. He avoids violent scenes, but builds an acceptable tension throughout the episodes that are captured by an often-unsteady camera. The performances, if not great, could have been worse, taking into account the actors’ inexperience. “Five Star” was never vibrant, but it was still able to make us think about the lives of these men, trapped into the mean streets since the day they were born.

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