American son - Movie Review

There is no light, just an usual Saturday in Addis…I think they do it in purpose for us to get out of the house and spend money. My laptop doesn’t have battery because yesterday I decided to not charge it and I was so confident that I even told myself “there is no way they are going to ruin my Saturday”, they did! My laptop has 4% and apparently I am left with 25 minutes to write this review.

I am trying to go straight to the point but I have an overdose of feelings that I need to share. There is no single day that I haven’t thought about my friend’s passing in the last five months. Every day reminds me of him and I ask myself why am I alive? I am pretty sure I don’t love life the way that human being did. He was the definition of life; he was everything that life was supposed to be. You know when you are watching a horror movie, every scene and sound scares you, because you assume something is about to happen. That’s how I feel about life now. I wake up thinking I am going to have car accident, be run over, fall, or receive a call saying that someone I care about has passed away, just like that day, 16th of June, 2019.

Yesterday, like every night all these thoughts invaded my mind and I decided to watch a movie to shut it down. I choose a drama movie to make myself feel even more miserable. I watched “American Son” trailer a few weeks ago and I wrote it on my ‘to do list’. I was dying to watch it, I knew it a typical ‘black lives matter’ product, just like ‘The hate you give’ and ‘When you see us’. Thankfully, my internet was back yesterday after one month without it and I was able to watch it on Netflix.

Kerry Washington is sitting in a kinda like a waiting room of a police station, she is talking to a police officer, asking him about her son whereabouts. Her son has been missing for nine hours and she is going crazy. Everything the officer says she wrongly interprets it and keeps pressuring him to find her son, Jamal. As a normal procedure, he asks her questions about Jamal and you can tell that she thinks her son is being ‘racially’ profiled. It’s a common term in America, I am aware of that because 15% of my soul is American, I have been raised by Americans through movies, books, Tv shows, news and so on.

Jamal is mixed race... there is this Brazilian saying “if you drop a bit of coffee to a bowl of milk, it’s ruined”. I don’t know the exact translation, basically, it means no matter who you are, if you have a black person as your father or mother you will never receive a ‘white’ treatment. She has no filter telling him exactly how she feels about his questions and his whole approach to her son missing. It looks like he is not doing anything about it which made me instantly conclude that her son was dead. If Jamal was alive or at some hospital they would let her know so she could go rescue him or something. I just wish there was a better story behind her son’s passing. Geez! They failed! They really blew this one…this movie had so much potential but it was just a waste of one hour and fifteen minutes, at least it evoked me strong emotions at the last 40 seconds of the movies. Spoiler!

I love watching Kerry Washington do anything, she is so perfect, so small, so beautiful…She is always given those kind of characters where she needs protection, like some princess who needs to be saved or anything like that. Also, I like how she expresses her emotions, making weird faces, moving her mouth awkwardly and she always looks like she is about to cry but there is never tears. The officer tries to calm her down and tells her she can get water from the corridor, while explaining he mentioned something about the place and she says ‘because of segregation’. Have you ever watched the movies ‘Hidden Figures’ with Taraji P Henson? Yeah, so that movie kinda explains what she is talking about, they mention the toilets for black people and toilets for white people. Can I ask something quick? Why people waited until ‘Empire’ to give Taraji P Henson the Hollywood start treatment or bow down to her? She is such an amazing actress.

My computer died but thank God electricity is back.

Anyways, the father comes and there is no chemistry between them, which is weird because I always picture Kerry with a white man. Apparently, they are separated. So he comes with more information that she couldn’t gather the whole time she was being impossible with the officer. There is this moment where he tells her something that she didn’t know and she askes him who told him, and he responds 'the officer', which made me start being all delusional, creating hundred possibilities, maybe the dad is involved? Maybe the dad killed the son? But nah! Nothing! This was just raw, no flavour to this movie…no twists! Nothing worth anyone’s time… why am I being so critical? I don’t know, I just expected more from Netflix I guess. After ‘When they see us’, Netflix is on my highest ranking of quality movie/series content.

I don’t remember the dad’s name and I don’t know his real life name either, so lets call him ‘dad’. The couple start arguing about their former relationship, racial tensions and Jamal's decisions. The dialogues were so long, I couldn’t follow. At one point, it looked like a monologue, even though there were other characters. This movie was boring, so boring I almost fell asleep and I am not that kind of person, I like to watch everything and understand everything. I fought my sleep because I was determined to see how this was going to end.

I always go to Wikipedia to give me more insights about the movie, I learned it was based on a play. I could see the theatrical traits from the beginning, like the whole movie being shoot in one room and so on but that wasn’t the problem, they could have done better, at least flashbacks or something? Was the budget a problem?  Tell me please…I have watched movies like this, centred in one scenario and they were a classic, for example, the Spanish movie ‘The invisible guest’, one of my favourites until today. It is so good that there are so many versions in other languages.

It never stops raining and it looks like they are not worried anymore. Then, the dad shows her a video where a young black man is killed and they start panicking. The so called officer that the other officer has been talking about since the beginning of the movie comes and calms them down, he had some weird explanation about the video that I don’t remember. Still, the dad is going insane and they decide to arrest him. Finally, something happened! I guess that scene was to show some action and my imaginative-self schemed in my mind that they wanted to be alone with the Kendra (Kerry Washington) so they could explain something to her that the dad couldn’t hear but nah. I was hoping to find out that the kid wasn’t his or the kid killed himself because he didn’t want to have a white dad or something like that. Entertain me please!

The officer (the second one) starts talking about history and so on, I can't tell you exactly what they were talking about, sorry I couldn’t follow, it was so fast like they were reciting, it sounded as slam poetry or something straight from R Kelly’s ‘Trapped in the closet’ album. She insults the officer, calling him ‘uncle tom’, I am not familiar with the meaning of the term but I have heard people calling the radio host Charlemagne the God the same. After a quick google search - basically, it’s a black person who is excessively obedient to a white person. I appreciate our history, I also understand the political message behind this movie and I know these stories need to be told but this movie was tiring.

If you feel like I haven’t given much information about the movie trust me it was difficult to concentrate, the movie was loading so slow because of the internet connection and you know when you want to go to a particular scene to understand it better, I just couldn’t. To be honest, the whole movie was just a long ‘black lives matter’ speech. When I watched the trailer, I liked it because it was vague, I thought they didn’t give us much to make us excited but I guess there was not much to give.

After hours of torturing themselves, the officer comes and reads a statement, instead of telling them directly that their son died. I kinda get it in a way, imagine an educated black woman with a Ph.D. in Psychology marrying a white man in order for her children to only face ‘half’ of the suffering and still she couldn’t save him. Reacting to his son passing, the dad says 'I can't breathe'...I know the feeling hey.

Despite all my critics, the movie is a creative masterpiece because in the trailer she kept asking ‘where is my son?’ - the movie ended and we never saw the son... You know those cartoons where they don’t show their faces, just bodies (google Miss Sara Bellum), that’s kind of what they did with the son. We never saw his face, ‘the face of the race’, which actually saved us a few tears, it would be devastating to watch and mourn a handsome young black man with green eyes and cornrows…


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