MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Francisco Burgos as BABO
Paul Dano as ROCCO
Rosario Dawson as BABO’S MOM
Naomie Harris as JILL
Lou Taylor Pucci as JACOB
Frankie Shaw as MICHELLE
Tariq Trotter as KALEEF
Directed by: Mark Webber
Studio: Phase 4 Films
BY KEVIN CARR
I don’t like to be preached at, unless I’m sitting in church and know it’s coming. The problem with a film like “Explicit Ills” is that it does nothing but preach. It makes demands that poverty should be stamped out and everyone should have full access to medicine, but it offers no real solution.
The story follows several characters in North Philadelphia facing poverty, drugs and crime. The lynchpin of the film is a young boy named Babo (Francisco Burgos), whose family faces tragedy in their situation. The film attempts to be socially relevant and artistic, but it turns into a pale imitation of movies like “Traffic” (which I loved) and “Crash” (which I loathed).
“Explicit Ills” also suffers from a simultaneous affliction of overwriting and underwriting. The characters stumble through the non-plot, facing each other in what appears to be moments of improvisation. This sort of thing works for comedies and well-constructed outlines. However, this just seems to be lazy writing by a self-important auteur.
The dialogue is mumbled and mashed together. But amid the staggering speech is a pretentious message that comes through in every scene.
When the movie finally ends, we’re treated to a protest march that declares that poverty should be ended. Great idea, guys. We’ll get right on that. Thanks for offering a solution.
The DVD comes with the theatrical trailer and an advertisement for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign Outreach, which would be realistic if the rights they were demanding were actually affordable in a realistic society.