Pendance pairs up Santiago Rizzo’s Quest with Alexandra Naoum’s L’Amazone. There, the director plays Elie, a woman who reunites with an ex at someone else’s birthday party. Reunions are difficult especially for her after surviving breast cancer. I’m contemplating the connective tissue between these two films, as both show the expansive lives of people who experience trauma.
Which is what I like about Rizzo’s film. The film introduces us to ‘Quest’ the graffiti artist persona of Mills (Gregory Kasyan), a 12-year-old from Berkeley, California. It glides us through his night, as he tags one wall or surface after another. It also shows his quick hangout sessions with fellow, older taggers like Diego (Lakeith Stanfield), who treats him like an equal.
There’s a pleasant nature in those scenes that balance out what eventually happens. After being out at night, Mills has to come home to his stepfather, Gus (Lou Diamond Philips) and absentee mother Ruth (Betsy Brandt). Gus’ treatment of Mills is inexcusable. It also ups the film’s stakes on whether or not he can thrive under an abusive household.
Mills also sees posters for football tryouts in his school. He’s the least likely candidate for such a team because of his height and build, but he asks the coach, Tim (Dash Mihok), for one more chance to prove himself. He makes it to the team, and Tim, an idealist, starts to notice that Mills needs a much better home life.
Rizzo bases this film on his real life struggles as well as the person who rescued him from his abusive situation. He bases Tim on the football coach who gave him a home. There are some moments that show that he treats some characters as archetypes. But nonetheless, the film intellectually and emotionally keeps in step with its audience.
- Release Date: 2/3/2019