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Sugar (2013)

A 20-year-old homeless girl is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome on the streets of Hollywood and Venice beach.



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Credited cast:
Sugar (as Shenae Grimes)
Free (as William Peltz)
Uncle Gene
Sister Nadia
Chrissy (as Jessica Andres)
Mubarak Ra'oof ...
Eugene Harris ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:


Based on true events, Sugar is the story of a young girl with a troubled past trying to survive on the streets of Venice Beach. Sugar suffers from PTSD after losing her entire family in a horrific car crash. She survives with her group of outcast friends on the streets of Venice Beach trying to find their own place in the world. Like so many homeless youth, Sugar is running from the pain of her past and will do anything to escape it. However with the help of Bishop, her counselor in the youth shelter, she is able to reconnect with her uncle who has been searching for her. Sugar's new world starts to crumble when forced to confront the demons she's run from for the last two years. Sugar is an all too common story of a troubled youth learning how to stop hiding, and to start healing. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





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Release Date:

6 April 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Menekülés  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film is based on experiences the director, Rotimi Rainwater, had when he spent time on the street. See more »


Referenced in Lost in America (2017) See more »


Leaving Babylon
Written by Earl Hudson, Paul 'H.R.' Hudson (as Paul Hudson), Darryl Jenifer & Gary 'Dr. Know' Miller (as Gary Miller)
Performed by Bad Brains
Published by Bad Brains Publishing Affiliate: ASCAP
Courtesy of ROIR Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Each of us have troubling things in our past and present, but for some it is better to run away, even if it means being on the streets, than face those troubles head on.
4 June 2014 | by (https://wherever-i-look.com) – See all my reviews

After seeing Gimme Shelter with Vanessa Hudgens, I was quite surprised to see fellow Wildcat Corbin Bleu had also filmed a movie in which he played someone with a history of being homeless/ mental illness. And while I learned he didn't have a prominent role in Sugar as I would hope, I did find myself quite entertained. How and why? Well, that is below.

Characters & Story

We begin by being introduced to this young lady named Sugar (Shenae Grimes) who has been living on the streets of Venice, Los Angeles, CA for around 2+ years. Like most of the characters in the movie, she isn't fond of talking about her life before she lived on the streets, and seems to find that anything associated with her past to be a big enough trigger that it makes her either unable to function, or makes her feel the need to run away from whatever location which initiated the trigger. Luckily for her though, she has quite a community to take her mind off the past and even the struggles of the present. Be it her boyfriend Marshall (Marshall Allman); this kid name Ronnie (Austin Williams), who is like a surrogate little brother to her; as well as this former homeless man, and now youth shelter counselor, Bishop (Wes Studi). All of these characters, and many more, try to help Sugar be in a good mental place, or at the very least make surviving a little less of a challenge.

Naturally though, with a cast featuring those with PTSD, those who escaped abusive situations, possible drug addicts, and even those with possible mental illnesses, it isn't just a bunch of kids living freely on the streets. There is an attempt at giving homeless youths a face and background. Trying to have the watcher remember that these are people who may have dreams and aspirations, but just don't have the financial support they need to really pursue them. Making for an overall interesting story based off the director's own experience with homelessness.


Perhaps the grandest praise I can give to a film is wishing it was a series. A few years back MTV tried to adapt UK hit show Skins, and for the most part failed. To me, with some adjustments, I think this movie could have done much better under the Skins banner. For while no one seems to be going to school, everyone pretty much is on the brink of adulthood and just imagining the episodes which could feature Sugar's past with her family; Marshall's as a young Mormon; Ronnie's in a foster home; Sketch's (Corbin Bleu) wherever he may have been; and then of course Bishop's past and etc., I think the story crafted could have really had the essence of Skins, used their focus on one character per episode format, and possibly flourished.

And I mostly say this because quite honestly I feel like the characters were well done. They all had some sort of flaw, but with their creation of a community, of which some members get along better than others, you can see potential for a pilot. Though, I must admit, amongst them I don't really think there is any true standout, even though Grimes' character is the lead for the movie.


One of the major obstacles I faced watching this film was my preconceived notions. From wonder how do most of the homeless kids look clean; Why do their clothes look fresh; How does Sugar own a functioning iPod, much less where does she charge it; How did Sketch find his living arrangements, and who lets him stay there? These questions made me skeptical and my own ignorance made me forget that just because someone is homeless, it doesn't mean they aren't resourceful, much less came from an impoverished environment.

However, perhaps the other major problem with the film is that there is a lack of diverse speaking roles. In total, including Bishop, I believe only three to four people of color were given speaking roles, and I found that so strange. Plus, considering how many people who are trans or homosexual are homeless, and likely would be in the area Sugar is in, I found it weird they weren't included. But perhaps the biggest issue was with no character wanting to dive into their past too much, all we get presented is their present which has them skateboarding all day, never really being harassed, and pretty much presenting a life in which it seems the only issue any of the kids may have is finding food. Of which they can steal or get from a shelter. Thus making what is probably a difficult experience seem to not have the weight it should.

Overall: TV Viewing

With it being a little difficult to connect with the characters and story, for varied reasons, I feel the TV Viewing label is appropriate. For while it is definitely interesting, and the director's background lends the story authenticity, I must admit that my own preconceived notions sort of made the plot seem dull. There isn't much in the way of struggle shown, outside of being homeless; and despite all the bad things Sugar talks about happening, we are never invited to see the dark side of things. Yes, it is hinted at, but never exposed. Thus making Sugar a film which has potential, but with the assumption that the director didn't want to exploit the stories of those he knew, but more so wanted to show a sort of "our lives aren't exactly what you think they are," he created a production which maybe authentic to his life and experiences, but overall doesn't have the weight of the situation that is implied or warranted.

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