Happy Saturday MMT Fam! This is my first review in a long, long while and I am very excited to post. 🙂 I want to thank everyone who sent messages and well wishes – they were needed and welcomed during my absence.
So, not only is this opening weekend for two anticipated blockbusters – A STAR IS BORN and THE HATE U GIVE – but there is an independent, grassroots movie called SHINE that surpassed its $100k goal in a 59 day Kickstarter campaign back in 2015 to become the highest funded Latino narrative film to date on the crowd-sourcing platform (kudos to both writer/director Anthony Nardolillo and producer Sandra Varona on their campaign and for winning the audience award for best feature at the 2017 Urbanworld Film Festival).
Here’s a synopsis of the film: SHINE is a NY-set Salsa dance movie which tells the story of two Puerto Rican brothers, Ralphi Matas (Jorge Burgos) and Junior (Gilbert Saldivar) from New York’s Spanish Harlem and the street’s best Salsa dancers, separated after a tragedy only to reunite years later on opposing sides of gentrification.
After 7 years of absence from New York City, Ralphi is back to develop commercial real estate in his old neighborhood. However, upon his return, Ralphi encounters his estranged brother Junior, who followed in his father’s footsteps, Ramon Matas (David Zayas), and is now an élite salsa dancer and an unwavering activist AGAINST gentrification in the neighborhood.
Let me start off by saying the music, choreography, and costuming in this film are fire! And, the theme of gentrification and displacement impacting longstanding members of the Spanish Harlem community is solid.
However, the family drama the film centers around to delve into the latter is overwhelmed by common tropes and clichés. Less cliché, and a bit more character development, would have helped me to connect and emotionally invest more in the main characters’ journeys.
And though it was cool to see Orange Is The New Black‘s Alysia Reiner as Ralphi’s boss Linda, she pretty much played the same uppity hard ass character as the Netflix show’s former prison warden.
Overall, the movie really shines in production and choreography but loses some of its luster with an overburdened story. With its hot dance routines and the resounding message of allowing your heritage to shine through while confronting and in the midst of imminent change, I rate this movie 3 out of 5 beats on the MMTrometer.
You can check out the trailer and get additional information about the film in the below links. SHINE movie opened October 5 and is in theaters nationwide.
Until next thought family,