A drama of four interconnecting stories revolving around love, drugs and poverty in Philadelphia.A drama of four interconnecting stories revolving around love, drugs and poverty in Philadelphia.A drama of four interconnecting stories revolving around love, drugs and poverty in Philadelphia.
In terms of form, Mark Webber's film is more a series of vignettes than a conventionally structured narrative, an approach that actually works quite well given the slightly amateurish, rough-around-the-edges nature of the piece. Yet, despite limited financial resources, Webber has fashioned a stylish, sometimes even quite visionary work that clearly cares about its characters and the community to which they belong.
Those characters include a young couple caught up in the web of drug addiction; an aspiring actor who's struggling with depression; a seven-year-old chess player who gets picked on at school; a sweet-natured teenager who's trying hard to impress his girl; a pot-smoking mother who's having to counsel her son to stay away from the drug till he's older; and another mother (played by Rosario Dawson) who's desperate to get some much-needed medicine for her asthmatic child. The characters have little in common with one another except that they happen to live in the same geographical locale and they're all trying to do the best they can with what fate and, in some cases, their own choices and actions have led them to. The movie ends on a powerful note of optimism and reconciliation after a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching event befalls two of the main characters.
When all is said and done, Webber's first directorial effort is more a work of "promise" than a fully realized work of art in its own right. But if your taste runs more towards the experimental and the "hip" and less towards the stale conventions of commercial movie-making, then "Explicit Ills" might well be the movie for you.
- Aug 8, 2009