23 April 2003 | dfryer
A great coming of age film that gets into the mind of girls.
I reflect back to the days when I held my boyfriends hat to smell him into existence in my time alone when I was 16. The little moments of this film are so accurate and right on pace with what is going on in the minds and hearts of young girls during those coming of age teenage years. Now at my age I want to preach to them about their decisions and how life during those times are not as important as it all seems in those moments. That if they can be patient in their youth and wait to experience the hardships of life both external and internal that life would be so much sweeter. But then again young people today are faced with some variables that I never had to deal with a youth.
The three main characters well played by all three actors (Kerry Wahington - Lanisha, Anna Simpson - Joycelyn and Melissa Martinez- Maria) give us the very believable depiction of a piece of reality for young girls living in impoverished situations. They have impoverished family lives all being raised by single mothers with expectation of Lanisha whose father is present but not actively supporting her day to day. The have impoverished educational systems and lack direct contact with achieving role models. These situations powerfully affect them and is their reality but all this is of no great depressive concern to these young women in their day to day. They except their plight and focus on the same things young girls all over the world are concerned with. Finding true love in a male, having good friends that you can depend on, gaining some respect/love and responsibility from parents and enjoying life. This is were this film cross the race, age and gender gap imposed upon it by its characters and the setting in which it is stamped.
The Director and writer McKay explains on the DVD how each of scenes got into his head, by just observing young people of that age that lived in those types of neighborhoods. Plus you add three up and coming actresses who are not so far removed from that time in their own lives that you get a real good synergy of reality and acting at its best. The one thing I know about (African Americans and Hispanics) is that there is always a spiritual family member or neighbor that is in the foreground or near ground believing in a better day and better life and future in spite of the present situation and is role modeling that to some extent. This was never touched in the movie in order not to preach and I understand that but it also narrows the culture to having no hope in anything other than themselves.
The HOPE FACTOR: I now think about my future and where I have come from and say as Lanisha did ` Today is a good day.' Yes poverty still exists, racism, sexism, and any other ism that we can added. Yes some of each of these young girls actions perpetuate the isms and are self-destructive, everything around them is impoverished but NONE of those actions past or neither present nor their environment leaves them without hope for a bright future. I was left with saddened hope of each of the characters and a deeper desire to be a role model in the life of some young girl on the edge of making a destructive decision. I suppose that is the value of film it should not only entertain but cause each of us to think, reflect and then act in some positive way to make this world a better place.