Sundance Film Festival reviews: “A Boy, A Girl, A Dream,” well-meant but artificial
by Jenniffer Wardell
Written by Qasim Basir and Samantha Tanner
Directed by Qasim Basir
Starring Omari Hardwick, Meagan Good, Jay Ellis, Kenya Barris, Dijon Talton, Wesley Jonathan and more
Grade: One and a half stars
When it comes to a successful movie, execution is as important as intent.
That’s the big problem with “A Boy, A Girl, A Dream,” a heartfelt but artificial-feeling slice of life set on Election Night 2016. Though the racial perspective is important, and the encouragement for people to follow their dreams is well-meant, the movie’s staged quality hampers both. It’s supposed to feel like real life, but there are too many times when it feels more like a student film.
The movie follows Cass, a club promoter, during the night of the 2016 elections. He’s immediately interested in Frida, a young woman who’s only in town temporarily, and the two argue, fall in love and discuss greater truths over the course of a long night. Around them, we feel the hopelessness and despair people of color feel as they watch the election results unfold.
The sense of despair is really well captured, and the movie speaks well to the emotional impact of the elections on people of color. The movie also contains a handful of moments that feel like grace notes, as poetic and lovely as the entire movie wanted to be.
Sadly, it doesn’t quite manage it. The majority of the dialogue doesn’t feel natural, with points underlined and highlighted as if it had been pre-outlined for class discussion. And the ending, though sweet, is flat-out ridiculous.
(Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)