"Washington Heights" tells the story of Carlos Ramirez, a young illustrator burning to escape the Latino neighborhood of the same name to make a splash in New York City's commercial ...
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"This is the summer of love, confusion, and the smell of fresh cut grass," says drifting protagonist Zac Peace (David Wike), an accomplished recent graduate. Zac arrives at his Long Island ... See full summary »
"Washington Heights" tells the story of Carlos Ramirez, a young illustrator burning to escape the Latino neighborhood of the same name to make a splash in New York City's commercial downtown comic book scene. When his father, who owns a bodega in the Heights, is shot in a burglary attempt, Carlos is forced to put his dream on hold and run the store. In the process, he comes to understand that if he is to make it as a comic artist, he must engage with the community he comes from, take that experience back out into the world, and put it in his work. Written by
Great characters, incredibly tight writing, wonderful acting.
I loved this film from the moment La Vida es un Carnival started till the
end. It avoids so many of the cliches that other immigrant stories fall
prey to, and instead gives us a real snapshot of the lives of a handful
characters in this New York neighborhood. I can't stand films where
everything is so neatly wrapped up and by the end all of the characters'
conflicts are resolved. Instead, this film let's us see a handful of
alive characters fight to pursue their dreams against the barriers of
families, history, loves, and, most importantly, themselves. By the
conclusion, we don't know all the answers of where they'll be, but we
who they are, and we care about them immensely. Nat Moss and Alfredo de
Villa deserve a huge round of applause for having written such a touching
and compelling story.
The movie is also beautifully shot, with de Villa's hand adding to the
as all great directors do. In one fantastic scene, we see one of the
characters joyfully announce his engagement, ask for help from his
and have his friend reveal that he cannot help due to a debt between
fathers. The character then responds in anger to the fact that his
would help his friend, but not his own son. As tightly as the scene is
written, it is shot equally well, with the camera following the
through the bodega, keeping up their increasing intensity. The shooting
adds to the scene immensely. There is also a beautiful sequence that is
up over many very brief earlier moments where we see a real
in the main character's artistic direction (he is a cartoon artist). I
struck while watching it how hard it is to show in a film the growth of
artist, or even the creative process. Yet here de Villa does so
brilliantly, making it completely believeable.
Finally, the acting in this film is fantastic. As the star Carlos of the
film, Manny Perez wonderfully alternates, like his neighborhood, between
high energy of his ambition, the frustration (and ultimate satisfaction)
his family ties, and his ambivalence about where he belongs. Tomas
turns in an Oscar-worthy performance as the father/bodega owner. And
numerous smaller roles reveal potential stars, including Danny Hoch, who
brilliant from start to finish, and Bobby Carnavale, who steals the
nearly every moment he's on it.
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