The tone poem Dayveon comes of age in rural Arkansas

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Picture: FilmRise
Lead

B

Solid

Devin Blackmon, Dontrell Vivid, Chasity Moore, Kordell Johnson, Lachion Buckingham

Availability

Choose theaters September 13

Voice-over in films is so lame so typically, even or particularly when it’s speculated to operate as an attention-grabber, genuinely distinctive voice-over monitor can produce a right away and highly effective response—precisely the sort of hook that the method normally aspires to. Such is the case with Dayveon. Opening on a sequence of semi-overhead following photographs of its 13-year-old title character (Devin Blackmon) using his bike, the viewers hears both Dayveon’s interior monologue or an amplified model of his speech as he ticks off a petulant listing of issues which might be silly. Something in his field of regard is eligible: silly tree, silly home, “silly bike I’m on.” The digicam retains its distance, however his muttering feels intimate and private. It hooks the viewers into Dayveon’s frustration and immaturity with a uncommon urgency.

Having accomplished this, the film then roughly dispenses with extra voice-over, besides in a few sequences the place dialogue performs over a montage. Because it occurs, that opening sorta-monologue from Dayveon has a verbal readability that the film typically prefers to eschew. In lots of scenes, director and co-writer Amman Abbas lets his dialogue mix collectively in a blur of overlaps, seeming improvisations, and mumbly Southern accents (at one level, Dayveon has his gangly buddy Brayden repeat a lady’s identify 5 – 6 instances earlier than he will get the pronunciation). There’s a low, virtually musical hum of life to scenes that may in any other case really feel sleepy.

These characters stay in rural Arkansas, which is why it’s a bit of shocking early on to see Dayveon jumped right into a gang—the Bloods, no much less, although their direct affiliation with much less rural outposts of their namesake gang is unclear. Dayveon lives along with his older sister, Kim (Chasity Moore), her boyfriend, Brian (Dontrell Vivid), and their very younger son; he’s additionally haunted by the reminiscence of his deceased older brother, whose airbrushed in-memoriam portrait hangs in the lounge. It’s implied that his brother was accomplished in by gang exercise—he was shot—however Dayveon nonetheless appears to the Bloods for a way of function that he doesn’t get from a loving however economically stretched house life. Brian sees what this child hides from Kim, and tries to set him straight, however he has his personal duties.

All collectively, not loads occurs in Dayveon; even the gang members typically should drive for what looks as if hours via city to stand up to no good (and Abbasi clearly loves plunging the digicam into backseat darkness, freeway mild flashing and fading). Dayveon and Brayden (Kordell Johnson) have loads of summer season downtime in between their attainable gang initiations, they usually spend that point appearing like usually stressed 13-year-olds. The film has a dreamy tackle kitchen-sink indies not in contrast to the work of David Gordon Green, who executive-produced this film alongside his frequent collaborators Jody Hill and Danny McBride (Abbasi is credited as Green’s assistant on a couple of his recent films). This means that even when Dayveon and Brayden practice flashing gang signs, they do so in a cricket-scored magic-hour reverie at the edge of a pond where they also lazily skip stones.

Abbasi, shooting in an almost-square 4:3 aspect ratio, clearly shares some aesthetic tastes with his former boss, and the tone-poem approach to this material has its limitations. Like the movie’s 75-minute running time, Abbasi’s approach is both flexible and intentionally curtailed; at this point, the way a short story like this will and won’t resolve has formed its own kind of arthouse predictability. In the moment, though, Dayveon is often beautiful, anchored by a talented cast of first-time film actors. By displacing some familiar gang-movie dynamics into an environment less often glimpsed on film, Abbasi stays true to the offbeat heart of his influences. The strength of his work here indicates an even more distinct voice might yet emerge.

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