Drunktown’s FinestSundance London 2014
With the name Drunktown’s Finest one would be excused for believing this particular film may be yet another macho American comedy starring the usual typecast actors and worn-out jokes. So it came as a bit of a surprise to discover that this piece couldn’t be further from this notion.
The audience is dropped straight into the lives of three young Native Americans in New Mexico as we are presented with vastly differing characters that all have specifically traumatic lives. Sick Boy is introduced as an outcast rebel with authority issues, Nizhoni is our sympathetically confused character as she is an adopted Christian girl searching for her biological parents, while Felixia is a young transvestite who has the most memorably dark introduction.
The narrative is fairly evenly split between the three separate paths as twist-filled character development is the driving force used to grip and enthral the viewer as we learn and understand the motivations and behaviour behind each person. The setting of New Mexico is paramount to building the story as the dusty isolated landscape mirrors the sense of abandonment each character feels.
The overlapping narrative and emotional journey draws distinctive comparisons with the Derek Cianfrance drama A Place Beyond the Pines, as the sense of karma and every action having a direct consequence is an integral theme. Yet the same problem occurs in both: that some stories are more interesting than others. Drunktown’s Finest struggles slightly to assign the satisfying amount of screen time to each story, though the development of characters – Sick boy in particular – is gripping enough to keep viewers attached.
While Drunktown’s Finest does offer up some interesting character-driven stories, there is an overriding feeling that there isn’t enough heart to offer complete substance, not helped by a couple of wince-inducing acting moments that detach the viewer from the key story.
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