There is a tendency in today’s cultural arena to liken the moral anomie that many underprivileged teenagers must confront as a kind of alienated nihilism leading inexorably to tragic, usually criminal, conclusions. But what is terribly real and even revelatory about Hurricane’s portrait of kids living on the edge is the play of morality, guilt, hopefulness and despair that surrounds them as they mature.
This superb drama tells the story of a “club” of boys, still at the bike-riding age, in lower Manhattan. They steal CDs and shoes to resell to other kids; hang out in their clubhouse, an empty bomb shelter; and engage in basically small-time crime. The focus of the film’s narrative is Marcus, a fifteen-year-old who lives with his grandmother because his father is dead and his mother is in jail. Marcus dreams of the day she will be released so they can move back to New Mexico where he was born. But events are put in motion that mitigate against the possibility of that future. Marcus meets and falls in love with an adolescent Latino, and he is also pressured by Chip to step up to a much more serious level of wrongdoing. As Marcus acts to realize his dreams, he must confront a web of dilemmas that leads him to engineer his own escape.
With its terrific sense of balance and authenticity foregrounded by an outstanding set of performers, Hurricane is a film as engrossing and compelling as any we have seen this year. Brendan Sexton III is particularly convincing as Marcus, and director Morgan J. Freeman utilizes a combination of dramatic tension and great feel for realism to draw us into his narrative. Beautifully shot and edited, Hurricane is cinematic truth at its finest, fashioned with a deft sense of life’s ironies.
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