Nickel Review of “Charm City Kings”

Nickel Review: 5 Categories, 5 Words
Feature Film Review of “Charm City Kings”
Coming to theaters nationwide on April 17th!

Cinematography: kinetic
Score & Sound: fulminant
Art & Wardrobe: veritable
Story: paternal
Acting: fervent

Nickel Rating: 4/5¢

Director Angel Manuel Soto giving a Q&A at Sundance 2020.

Cinematography: One item that is immediately clear with Charm City Kings is just how kinetic the cinematography is. Much akin to dirt bike culture, every frame of the movie incorporated motion; from dialogue covered by prolonged handheld shots to the explosive energy of “The Ride”, a gathering of Baltimore dirt bikers.

Score & Sound: Following up on the camera work, the sound design is fulminent in the sense that the movie’s score will explode with life at any given moment. Like a bolt of lightning, the piece plows into a cacophony of revved engines, celebration, and gunfire at the drop of a dime, leaving your engrossed ears ringing. Additionally, our star trio (Mouse, Lamont, and Sweartagawd) have clearly mastered their Baltimore accents, but more on their performance in a moment!

Art & Wardrobe: The production and costume design is perfectly veritable, not missing a beat in representing the marginalized communities of 2010s Baltimore. The authenticity is so prevalent that you might not pay it any mind, by design. Each set of costumes presents us with a glimpse into each character before they even have the chance to speak. Notably, the difference in wardrobe between Mouse’s father figures: the legendary dirt biker Blax vs black-gone-blue Detective Rivers, street vs book smarts.

Story: This bildungsroman is clearly about manhood. Mouse has no paternal guidance, so he has Blax and Rivers working to fill the void. They each represent different aspects of fatherhood, with Blax teaching Mouse to take his losses with confidence and keep his nose high. Rivers imparts more traditional knowledge on Mouse, lessons of respect and keeping his nose clean. Despite Mouse repeatedly getting both of his “fathers” in trouble on a number of occasions, the pair always has his back as he adopts his own version of being a man.

Acting: Every vital character undergoes a fervent spectrum of emotion throughout the piece. We see Mouse’s mother chilling on her porch with friends early on, and then deep in tears lamenting her personal demons. We observe Lamont evolve from a chill preteen into a ticking time bomb. It’s clear that the roles were such a natural cast for many of the actors: Mouse, Lamont, Sweartagawd, Blax, and Rivers all embody their emotional highs and lows with grace.

Nickel Rating: 4/5¢: Charm City Kings is a lens into the dirt biker world of Baltimore, Maryland with a beautiful depiction of disenfranchised youth paired up with a coming of age tale we can all relate to. Catch Mouse on the screens nationwide on April 17.

Warm Regards,
Nick Candido

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