Abu, the protagonist, is created as the same tragic black character that some of us recognize from racist mainstream films.
Abu is a young black man who is trying to make something of himself by getting a corporate job in Midtown, Manhattan after a rough past and involvement with drug-dealing in the South. That's all well and good, except that he is diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer(Please watch out for the excessively violent and long-winded scenes of him vomiting into the toilet), and he is left to fend for himself without health insurance or treatment.
Despite his success, Abu can't seem to win over the trust of his mother or his old friends, who have turned their backs on him. Additionally, he can't seem to get out of the drug-dealing life, as one of his acquaintances continues to visit him, asking him to stash drugs in his desk at work. As clearly stated in one scene Abu has no real friends, family, or support network. He barely afford to take care of himself as he suffers from the pains of his malignant disease.
I find it hard to believe that Keith Miller did not intend to address any social issues with this film (as he mentioned at a screening), as Abu clearly experiences race and class. Unfortunately, due to the director's limited perspective of the black male experience (due to him being a white male), he was unable to portray Abu's struggles with racism in a non-stereotypical way. In one scene, Abu, a large black man, reacted with anger, threats and violence to ignorant inquiries of his background from a white man.
In the end, I find it particularly off-putting that the only source of joy and community Abu received at the end of his life was with white strangers at a bar, right before he was advised to go hiking. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't get the same sort of human connection with the people in his own community. In the end, like many other tragic black tropes (most of which are found in horror films), he died alone in the woods, without a community, and without a stake in the world.
As a black woman, this film killed my spirit. I would only hope that people who choose to watch this film can see that it is worth examining the role that race (and the director's perspective as a white male who is not in the position to create a black character who experiences race) plays in the construction of Abu's character and story.
9 out of 28 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!