Friday, January 21, 2022

Emergency (2022) - Sundance 2022 Movie Review

The Movie: Emergency

The Director: Carey Williams

The Cast: RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins, Sabrina Carpenter, Sebastian Chacon, Maddie Nichols, Madison Thompson, Diego Abraham, Gillian Rabin, Summer Madison

The Story: Ready for a night of legendary partying, three college students must weigh the pros and cons of calling the police when faced with an unexpected situation.

The Review:
On the surface, Carey Williams' debut feature film looks like a pretty standard crazy night out college party movie with lots of drugs, alcohol, and crazy hi-jinks. Well, it is that and it's also so much more and it is for me, one of the most entertaining and emotionally engrossing movie experiences I have had in quite some time. Yes, the frat party fun is there, but it takes a back seat to an intense and dramatic exploration of race along with how racism and ignorance are inherently embedded into our society and culture.

If that sounds like some heavy lifting for a movie like this, well it kind of is but Williams does an amazing job of balancing out all the different emotions while expertly sprinkling in comedy with neither extreme ever feeling out of place. At the core of the movie is the relationship between two best friends Sean and Kunle (played by RJ Cyler and Donald Elise Watkins respectively), two college students who are like brothers even though they are often at odds with their viewpoints and beliefs, especially when it comes to their place in the world as young black men.

The two performances from these men, both individually and as a duo, is so powerful, so nuanced, and so authentic to the material, I honestly don't know if I will see anything better for the rest of this year and 2022 is just getting started. There are moments in this movie that literally had me in tears because they hit so hard in so many different ways and then there are moments that nearly had me in tears because I was laughing so hard. The magic of all of it and how I feel it is all woven together so neatly is that every moment feels authentic. The drama isn't preachy, it's real even when it makes you reevaluate how you see the world and how you fit into it and the comedy isn't over the top lunacy, it all fits into the reality of the story in a believable way.

Along with the two leads, I really enjoyed the performances from Sebastian Chacon as Carlos, and aspiring rocket scientist and friend to Sean and Kunle along with Sabrina Carpenter who embodies the primary message of racism that Williams explores in great detail. I mean the fact that racism and entitlement are so embedded into our culture and society that it can be impossible to recognize where and how we, and I mean anyone of any race and/or color, fit into that equation. Williams not only explores these ideas through character but through so many different ideas and experiences, it can be very thought provoking if you are willing to open yourself up to it.

The Verdict:
Emergency is one of those movies that immediately grabs your attention and never lets go. The story is engaging and thought provoking, the characters are authentic and relatable, and the messaging is about as timely as it gets even as it deals with issues that have always been there.

To keep track of all my Sundance reviews, interviews, and other festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at Sundance 2022.

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