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Ricky Brown (Ryan Kwanten) is a high school youth in Texas who knows nothing about the outside world for his was raised his entire life to follow the West Texas tradition of playing football on the gridiron. Ricky desperately tries to find a direction with his life as well as try to shake off the troubled memory of his older brother's recent death in order to avoid the pressure of him to play as his school's top star. Fleeing from the pressures of his small town as well as his mother (Karen Black), Ricky travels to New York City where he shacks up with his former mentor John Cross (Hill Harper), who is now a Catholic priest of a small church. Ricky also meets Vera (Natasha Lyonne) a free-spirited young woman who works as a diner waitress who he hopes to help him find direction. At the same time, Ricky also becomes acquainted with Rosie (Élodie Bouchez) a young Frenchwoman who has a "special relationship" with John that may have lasting consequences for John and Rosie. Written by
America BROWN is one of those little Indie films that creeps up on you and despite the technical flaws and obvious low budget milieu makes a solid impact as a bit a Americana worth visiting.
America Brown aka Ricky Brown (Ryan Kwanten) is a high school senior who happens to be a football star in his tiny West Texas town where Bo (Leo Burmester) and Coach (Frankie Faison) have pinned there efforts to break into the big time in football if Ricky fulfills his expectations. Ricky lives with his beautician mother (Karen Black) whose strident husband is dead and whose oldest son Daniel (Michael Rapaport) recently died from a heart attack. Ricky needs to breathe and escapes to Brooklyn where he traces down his personal hero, former football Texas star John Cross (Hill Harper) who has become a Catholic priest but has secrets of his own. John takes in Ricky, and Ricky begins to discover the world outside of Texas, loses his virginity to a diner waitress Vera (Natasha Lyonne) and befriends Rosie (Élodie Bouchez), whose attachment to John Cross seems to have some undercurrents. Ricky is all innocence and beautiful youth as he walks the streets of New York in his jeans, cowboy clothes and Stetson - reminiscent of Midnight Cowboy. But as his mind is exposed to the world outside Texas and football he comes to grips with a recurring unbearable nightmare: he feels responsible for his brother Daniel's death. Ricky ultimately returns to his hometown, to his loving mother, and to football, faces his demons, and learns the meaning of becoming a man.
Young Australian actor Ryan Kwanten, complete with authentic Texan twang, creates a character impossible not to love. His mixture of optimism, naiveté, and inner torture is a fine portrayal of a gifted sportsman challenging what his world expects of him. The remainder of the cast is likewise very fine. London born, Canadian writer/director Paul Black gifts us with his first feature film here and he seems to have all of the makings of a truly fine artist. Watch for his future work! Recommended. Grady Harp
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