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Drunktown’s Finest (2014 Sundance capsule)

January 19, 2014  |  10:44am
<i>Drunktown&#8217;s Finest</i> (2014 Sundance capsule)

Amateurishness outstrips earnestness by a wide margin in writer-director Sydney Freeland’s Drunktown’s Finest, a Native-American-centric coming-of-age triptych that makes the obligatory third act play for interwoven significance. The film unfolds in a dead-end New Mexico town bordering a Navajo reservation, where 17-year-old, college-bound Nizhoni (Morningstar Angeline) is doing community service work as a means to try to dig up information on the biological family her white adoptive parents have kept her from seeing. Luther (Jeremiah Bitsui), known to all as “Sick Boy,” is a father-to-be who endangers his pending military enrollment through alcoholic acting out. Promiscuity, meanwhile, is the drug of choice for transsexual Felixia (Carmen Moore). Freeland applies a thick lacquer of cultural commentary, but doesn’t scratch much past the surface. More problematically, she has an extraordinarily poor grasp of how addictive impulses inform behavior. Peter Holland’s cinematography nicely captures some of the desolation of its natural setting, but uneven acting and niggling continuity issues help doom Drunktown’s Finest, whose characters never achieve three-dimensionality.

Director: Sydney Freeland
Writer: Sydney Freeland
Starring: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Francis
Production Details: Dry Lake Productions/Indion Productions, 90 minutes

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