“Young. Wild. Free.” plays like an urban, modern day version of “Bonnie and Clyde.” It’s mostly a by-the-book story of teenage rebellion and independence, but co-writer and director Thembi Banks‘ keen sense of timing, the vivid cinematography and color scheme, and the chemistry between the two leads gives the film a unique, intoxicating vibe.
Set in South Los Angeles, Brandon (Algee Smith) is an artist who uses the medium to escape the stress of his everyday life. He struggles with controlling his anger, and he just got fired for fighting on the job. Brandon suffers from a great deal of anxiety and mental health issues that he never really discusses, mostly because he feels he has to be strong and provide for his family. Brandon is responsible for looking after his single mother (Sanaa Lathan) and his two younger siblings, and it’s a lot of work. His life is turned upside down when he’s held at gunpoint by a young woman named Cassidy (Sierra Capri) who turns out to be the girl of his dreams.
Banks’ story (along with her co-writers Juel Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier) is one of danger, escape, and freedom. Cassidy is wild and intoxicating, a free spirited bad girl who has an aura of danger that’s irresistible. She gives Brandon a new and exciting reason for living, and their whirlwind romance is electrifying. He begins to see the world in a different light, and it doesn’t take much for Brandon to be seduced into Cassidy’s life of bad decisions and questionable choices. The two lovers embark on an increasingly risky path that could seal their ill-fated romance.
The plot is loose and thin, and Banks relies heavily on unnecessary filler to stretch her film into a feature length project. It looks terrific, though, and Capri and Smith’s charisma help keep the slowest parts of the movie engaging. The ending seems disappointing, but the plot goes through a few surprising twists before reaching its conclusion.
“Young. Wild. Free.” can be a little too flashy at times, but Banks’ vision is well-suited to her story of a reckless young romance. I wish the storytelling was a little tighter, but there are enough interesting elements here for a mild recommendation.
By: Louisa Moore
Where can we see the film at
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Right now, it doesn’t have distribution. I’m sure it will make the film festival rounds and then will likely be on a streaming service at some point.