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The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is a Sundance film, directed by George Tillman Jr. so if you saw this you’re obviously one of those ‘underground’ moviegoers. The film itself is about the struggles of two boys named Mister, played by Skyland Brooks and Pete, played by Ethan Dizon. It’s a strange film about a topic not often discussed which is child abandonment due to parental issues. In the film, these Brooklyn youth are forced to fend for themselves after their mother is arrested and the police fail to take the children. Mister and Pete find themselves stealing and begging in the hot New York summer as they try to survive without Mister’s mother. Its a strange film, but interesting because of the topics that aren’t portrayed in mainstream conversation regarding poverty. The strong adventurous aspect of the film keeps the audience enthralled with Mister and Pete’s adventure, no matter their condition throughout the story. The cinematography was done well and the character development was fluid. The way the film introduced important aspects about the children through poverty-related issues ranging widely into realms that many often wouldn’t expect in a movie was professional, especially for Sundance. If there’s one thing that made almost every character irrelevant, was the stupendously realistic acting of Ethan Dizon and Skyland Brooks. Not once throughout the film did I feel as though the main characters were merely acting, both actors played their roles well. Mister was the overly-ambitious black kid down on his luck, and Pete the naive, sometimes confused, and humorously reserved Korean kid who is also down on his luck.
The acting managed to almost cover some glaring issues with the film, such as the strange and unmemorable supporting characters whose on-screen time was inconsistent. In a bad way. Sometimes the film seemed to be more about exposing the impoverished projects of New York, as opposed to developing a story. The blending of social exposition and story development suddenly became murky halfway through the film, and the only interesting part of the film was Mister and Pete themselves.
With many small-produced films, the climax was heartbreaking, and as the title foretold, it wasn’t going to be a happy ending for Mister and Pete. However, without giving anything away it wasn’t the type of ending you’d expect.
The acclaimed critics and your average moviegoers—judging by the reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes—seemed to be split. The critics insisted that the film wasn’t good and rated it poorly, strangely contrasting with the overwhelming positive reviews from moviegoers. Nonetheless, if there’s any positive general consensus about the film, its without a doubt the mind-blowing acting on behalf of Skyland Brooks and Ethan Dizon.
The film however did achieve many greats, such as exposing the darkest sector of Brooklyn that hasn’t been gentrified. Conflicts between impoverished people and foreigner shop-owners was also highlighted. Pete is an Asian-American, a racial group which is underrepresented in media, and often aren’t portrayed as Americans characters themselves—especially not poor Asian-Americans. The portrayal of the justice system and the treatment of many orphaned youth reveals an often overlooked topic to audiences about the counter-balances of Police Officers and the law’s after-effects. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete does a great job at portraying issues relevant today, with Mister and Pete embodying teamwork-type friendship that moviegoers love. However, the second-half of the film could do without distractions about loose sub-plots with two-dimensional characters.
If you love films that aren’t multi-million dollar computer-generated beat ‘em ups, and actually appreciate a down-to-Earth story every now and then, I’d recommend The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete for you.