True Grit: Our Review of ‘Vandal’

Posted in Movies, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - November 15, 2021
True Grit: Our Review of ‘Vandal’

On the surface Vandal appears to be one of those coming of age, rebellious young adult films, that have graced the screen many, many times before. It’s more than that though. In fact it’s one of those films that not only does the trailer not do it justice, but the synopsis doesn’t either. It’s gritty, it’s real, and it becomes very personal, very quickly.

Vandal is the story of Nick (Daniel Zovatto Of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels), otherwise known as Damage. Nick is the leader of a Miami graffiti crew who has all the potential to take the art world by storm. But he doesn’t want to sell-out to do it. He’d rather showcase his work on the sides of buildings and subway cars. After a close friend commits suicide, he finds himself questioning his life. His recently released from prison brother and his ex girlfriend both see his potential and try to warn him that his current road is heading towards a dead-end. But he doesn’t want to hear it. Not even after finding a new girlfriend (Otmara Marrero of Clementine) that he really cares about. Instead he continues a selfish vendetta with a rival gang member and must deal with the consequences instead.

Writer/director Jose Daniel Freixas knows a little something about graffiti, and it shows. He uses his life experiences to create a film that looks and feels authentic to the lifestyle of a Hispanic, Miami-based street artist. It gives the film a grittiness that makes it more than just a coming of age film. Vandal is really a sum of all its parts though. The most essential part is Zovatto giving his character a realism that isn’t prettied up with Hollywood glitz and glamour.

Zovatto truly looks and acts the part, and makes you believe he has a tremendous chip on his should for all he’s been through. Perceived and real. Marrero on the other hand plays his opposite. She wants more, but she’s stuck living in world that doesn’t always treat its women with respect. There are many films with two characters that fall in love with one another. Films where you wonder how they could even possibly end up together. But unlike those movies, here you can understand their pairing well. This is all due to the incredibly acting abilities of the two leads.

Even if graffiti and street art doesn’t interest you, there is more to Vandal than just that. Like art, you need to look a little deeper to truly appreciate it. While the film may be dark both in tone and the way it was shot, there’s something beautiful just below the surface.

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While Roderick has only been writing movie reviews for a relatively short time, he's been a fan of film for as long as he can remember. It's a love affair that started when he saw Star Wars at a drive-in theatre in Kitchener when he was four years old. In the past decade he's fulfilled his dream of interviewing celebrities, attending red carpets events at festivals such as TIFF and writing reviews for outlets such as He's always on the hunt for the next big thing to hit the screen.
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