"Big Words" is writer-director Neil Drumming's feature debut. It follows five people wandering through NYC on election night in 2008, all attempting to understand their pasts in order to make peace with the present. The film is built around three former members of an early 90s hip-hip group, that seemed to have some underground credibility, but never released a full length album.
The film is purely dialog, with the actors carrying the film. Drumming opts for a fairly intimate cinematography, with closes up dominating the running time. His direction was hit and miss, at times the camera work aided in creating a sense of intimacy, as the characters work through their lives. At other times, Drumming's staging feels amateurish and contrived, fearful of movement.
The parts of the movie that drew me in the most revolved around John or Big Words (played Dorian Missick) and Annie (Yaya Alafia) who I think gave the most engaging performances. Additionally, Drumming's best work is inside Annie's small apartment, the film felt the most at ease during these sequences. I found myself increasingly disinterested in Terry or DJ Malik (Darien Sills-Evans), a character I struggled to related with.
While some issues raised are more specific to the African-American community (and probably somewhat specific to NYC), the film deals at its core with universal human themes, of lost youthful dreams and how awkward, confusing, difficult, and even scarring the transition into traditional adulthood is.
A good film to sit and reflect with.
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