txdrmst’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wow. I went into this seeing only the trailer, which made me feel like this was going to be a feel-good film. This is not a feel-good film.
There was a line that my buddy Chris pointed out to me, spoken by one of the children:
"Do you know why this is my favourite tree? Because it's tipped over, and its still growing."
This works as a wonderful metaphor for the film itself, and the situation the characters are living in. Each day they're simply trying to get by, trying to improve themselves and get out of a bad situation. Much like slapping a new coat of bright purple paint on a bed bug infested motel.
Sean Baker invites us into the world of children growing up in less than ideal conditions around less than ideal role models. The images are uncomfortable, unflinching, and at times heartbreaking. What makes it so real to me are the small glimmers of hope that we are able to see through the cracks in the foundation, the sense of community that's developed, and the caring of individuals like Bobby showing through in a difficult world.
In the end its that hopeful outlook of a child that prevails, wrapping up a somewhat devastating film in one of the most beautiful endings I've ever seen.
The performances here are absolutely outstanding, none of the actors are given over the top scenes which would allow them to appear as "characters" so what we're left with is profoundly human.
My new favourite of the year.