Sundance Buddy comedy tackles racism in America – The Hollywood Reporter

Brotherhood is the current hottest topic of Emergency situation, an interesting but uneven feature from Carey Williams (R # J) about roommates caught in a special bond.

Adapted from his 2017 short story of the same name, the film expands on the original premise of three college seniors, two Black and another Latino, debating whether to call the scene. after discovering a drunk white girl unconscious on the floor of their living room. Pulling the anxious trio out of their stuffy apartment and throwing them into the chaotic outside world, Williams’ latest project elevates this thinking on racism in America.

Emergency situation

Key point

Entertaining enough, but only deep on the surface.

Location: Sundance Film Festival (American Drama Competition)
Cast: RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins, Sebastian Chacon, Sabrina Carpenter, Maddie Nichols
Manager: Carey Williams
Writer: KD Davila

1 hour 45 minutes

Emergency situation opens with a sense of optimism. Sean (RJ Cyler) and Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins), best friends and roommates, are just weeks away from graduating from college. To celebrate their achievement in the right way, Sean, an African-American party guy, planned an epic night out for the duo, which included lots of drinks, smoking, and more. and hope to sleep with their favorite friends.

The two boys couldn’t be more different, making people curious about a friendship origin story that doesn’t get to play as many roles as in the movie. While Sean breezes through college, unimpressed by the expectations of pedestrians in academia, Kunle, son of African immigrants, designs his identity around achievement. He is a science enthusiast whose research earned him a place in the graduate program at Princeton University.

Kunle and Sean’s easy fraternal relationship accentuates the film, which feels like a meditation on two friends wrestling each other over their different world views as well as illusions about security. for Blacks in America. Kunle, once a pragmatist and the epitome of a wonderfully naive person, assumed that keeping his head down and working hard meant he could make it through the world unchallenged. Sean, whose life the film suggests has been mired in harsh experiences, is not easily lulled to sleep.

These perspectives guide their initial reactions when they find Emma (Maddie Nichols), a drunk white girl who broke into their shared apartment, lying unconscious on their floor. Kunle wanted to call 911 immediately. Sean thinks it’s the worst idea in the world. To help them break the bond, they capture their third roommate Carlos (Sebastian Chacon), a reserved Latino gamer who, despite being at home all day, doesn’t hear Emma enter and breaks down.

The trio decided that calling the police would only get them into trouble. The police would look at Emma’s pale, almost lifeless body and arrest all three of them, Sean argued. Kunle, grasping the need to do the right thing, suggests they take her to the hospital instead. So begins a kind of street-comedy-comedy haunted by the boys’ real fears of a fatal misunderstanding.

Emergency situation requires a little suspension of skepticism to fully enjoy. The three boys dragged Emma’s body into Sean’s car and down the road. At first, they considered depositing her in front of the fraternity house they thought she had gone from – a truly terrible idea. When they went back to the hospital’s original plan, they realized they needed to take the back street of the campus to avoid the noisy checkpoints.

Williams’ stylish direction, coupled with KD Davila’s solid script, capitalizes on the absurdity of the situation; Guys share really funny jokes to ease their nerves. But Emergency situation will benefit significantly from further development of locations and characters. It was never fully clarified in which part of the country the boys went to college, although some jokes about white libertarian ambivalence are suggestive. a coastal country. Although it may have been intentionally vague to emphasize the universality of their experience, specificity is left out.

The three main characters feel similarly deprived, the actors’ strong performances unable to fully make up for the film’s reluctance to move beyond archetypal sketches. What keeps Kunle, Sean and Carlos still friends after meeting freshman year? What is at stake for them if they interact with the police? even though Emergency situation occasionally gesturing to these questions, it primarily prioritizes making broad observations and jokes about Race in America.

The film’s success lies in framing the familiar examination of police violence in America around friendship. While I find it hard to believe that Kunle, despite his allegiance to American exceptionalism, would not have thought of calling the police, his conversations with Sean reveal class differences and culture influences their respective ideology. If only the movie teased these a bit more, and more definitively included Carlos, who is mostly just a joke and repository for a social media awkward gamer’s jokes. Emergency situation mostly sticks to the surface of the problems it presents, which results in a funny but frustrating viewing experience.

When the trio arrive at the hospital, they are faced with increasingly complicated situations, from a brief chase with racist white brothers to a white couple filming them in the hospital. a pitstop. Meanwhile, following behind them is another crew consisting of Emma’s sister Maddy (Sabrina Carpenter), her best friend Alice (Madison Thompson), and Alice’s lover Rafael (Diego Abraham). When they realized Emma was missing, the three tracked her phone and tracked down the truck.

The two sides eventually cross paths, and their final clash with the police is one of the film’s most productive moments, with Williams grasping the fates of Kunle and Sean in a sharp way. The two may be different but Emergency situation shows that their friendship with each other is, above all, what keeps them alive.

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