Hot Take: A celebration of the lowrider tradition in Los Angeles mixed with a cliché filled tale of men who can’t express their feelings unless it is through heavy machinery.
I’m waiting for Blumhouse Tilt to make a misstep this year. I guess you could call The Belko Experiment a misstep but with a $5 million budget and a $10.6 box office, it’s far from a disaster. I wasn’t expecting much from BH Tilt’s latest Lowriders and ranked it the 23rd most anticipated release of May. While there’s no reason to go overboard with praise for the latest low budget flick from Jason Blum’s cost efficient film factory, Lowriders isn’t bad.
Featuring a solid cast led by small time actor Gabriel Chavarria as Danny and supplemented by Demian Bichir, last seen in The Hateful Eight as Bob/Marco the Mexican, Theo Rossi, best known for his role on Sons of Anarchy, Tony Revolori, Melissa Benoist and Eva Longoria, this drama centers around Danny’s desire to be an artist and his strained relationship with his father who is also obsessed with winning the annual lowrider event in East L.A. and the return of his brother Francisco/”Ghost” from prison.
The three male members of the Alvarez family can’t seem to talk things through in scenes that are oozing machismo and perpetuate the notion that men can’t bond emotionally. Danny and his brother reunite as Francisco wants to beat his father for the lowrider title in a revenge move. Francisco has Danny paint the mural on the lowrider he’ll be showcasing and more staring and stewing ensues between the three Alvarez men.
As the film progresses, Danny gets caught in the middle of the two and realizes his brother’s anger toward his father might be crossing a line. The film is somewhat of a coming of age film but also a celebration of the Latino heritage highlighted by the almost religious lowrider culture of the community. The film is a little uneven but able to not completely lose its footing at 99 minutes. Even the predictability is overcome by organic performances that are effective in capturing the emotionally stunted triangle between a father and his two sons who have all not been able to move on from the death of the original matriarch of the family.
In addition to some solid performances, the lowrider culture is at the forefront of the film. It glamorizes the culture while essentially calling out most of the guys get into it because chicks dig cars. It becomes bigger than that but it’s the same reason half the world’s greatest guitar players original picked up a guitar, if we’re being honest here. As Danny matures, so does the film and eventually, it all comes together and delivers yet another good but not great 2017 film.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Lowrider Culture
The hallowed lowrider tradition and how it bonds friends and family is told in such a way that you buy into the film’s rather predictable trajectory without questioning the film’s conclusion too much.
- Effective, Low Key Performances
Outside of Rossi as “Ghost”, the performances are relatively low key. Longoria as the one strong female presence adds a layer to the film that it needs to be successful, too.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
There’s something cartoonish about Rossi who last appeared on the big screen in an equally cartoonish role in When the Bough Breaks. It feels like its more the character than the actor but if it keeps happening, he’s going to get a bad rap.