“Five Star” provides viewers with an experience revealing the reality of life in the hood of New York and the humanity behind it.
Director and writer Keith Miller follows up his first feature film, Welcome to Pine Hill, with Five Star. He broke away from the common stereotypes of gangsters, and instead invites us to see their authentic interactions. In this film, James ‘Primo’ Grant (who debuts as an actor in this film) plays Primo, a founder of the notorious gang, Bloods. We are able to follow the journey of his character along with that of teenager John, whom Primo knows as the son of his deceased friend. The interaction of these two characters is essential to portray the twisted sides of compassion and violence when one is involve in the gang world.
We are first introduced to Primo as he is having a sentimental moment while driving. He shares the story of when his baby boy was born and laments that he missed the most important day of his son’s life because he was locked up in jail. This first scene allows us to witness, not simply a gang member, but a father figure—a man, sharing his emotions so deeply that we, as the audience, are able to relate. We are then introduced to John, who is walking around the projects in Brooklyn and bullied by other gang members. We first see Primo and John interact when Primo approaches John to ‘rescue’ him from other gangsters. As Primo takes John under his wing to teach him about the reality of this world, we see the relationship of these two near-strangers begin to grow.
The beauty of this film is that it allows us to relate to characters without having shared similar experiences. It reminds us that at the end of the day, we are all human beings, with human emotions and needs. This – more than being a film about life in the ghetto – is a film about a human story, one that provides us with lessons and rich information about the circumstances of others. This story is so personal and has many elements of truth– one being that Primo is actually a member of Bloods. The line between reality and fiction is blurred out; allowing us to fully embark on a journey with the characters.
It does not matter if you do not have any knowledge of what the gang life is, you will connect and sympathize with these characters. We experience real people trying to fight their situations in order to have a brighter future. We see the beauties of love between families and friends, as well as the darkness and violence. Five Star gives a fresh and original perspective on what the gang world consists of. Add it to your must-watch list.
The film is opening in New York on July 24 at the IFC Cinemas, in LA on July 31 at the Arena Cinemas and on VOD and iTunes August 4!