All seems final in George Tillman Jr.'s The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, but the film is more than just drugs, guns and poverty.
The no-win contest sounding film, which was scripted by Michael Starrbury (Black Jack), depicts a gritty tale starring relative newcomers Skylan Brooks and Ethan Dizon. The two take on the task of carrying the brunt of the picture, as Mister and Pete who paint a picture of the crime children are exposed to in Brooklyn, New York City.
The life in the King County projects has changed since the tale of The Education of Sonny Carson hit the screen. Director George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food, Men of Honor) notes these changes in the environment, as critics are likened to compare this picture to Lee Daniels' Precious. While the early scenes do lay down the tough realities lived by the characters, thereby building promising foundations, Inevitable takes audiences on a journey developing into a new age coming-of-age story.
Desperate to avoid being put in foster care, Mister and Pete struggle to survive on their own in Brooklyn, after the former's mother gets arrested and taken away. Mister (Brooks) is a 13-year-old whose recent flunking of the eighth grade is the least of his concerns. With no one but themselves to rely on, Mister takes care of the 9-year-old Pete (Dizon), a neighbor kid in a similarly sad circumstance.
A film like this is made or broken by its child actors, and George Tillman, Jr. and casting director Jessica Kelley found an incredibly talented leading duo in Brooks and Dizon. In the titular roles of Mister and Pete, respectively, their performances are weighty, flawless, thought-provoking, as their on-screen chemistry lights up the screen. Their beyond impressive skill helps to make the supporting performances from Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Mackie and Jeffrey Wright unrecognizable in their respective roles. Julito McCullum plays familiar territory as a neighborhood terror known as Dip Stick. Meanwhile, Jordin Sparks gives a terrific turn as an old neighborhood friend of Mister who has found a way out of the projects.
Tillman, Jr.'s picture also freezes in time the rougher areas of Brooklyn's most recently gentrified areas. Although gone is the Crown Fried Chicken on Franklin Avenue and Fulton Street, Brooks' exchange with Jeffrey Wright in a scene would seem like anything less than reality if you witnessed it yourself no less than five years ago. Nostrand and Myrtle Avenue also makes a healthy appearance, and make compelling set pieces to outline the environment of which the characters exist in.
Hudson, who plays Mister's drug-addled mother, is deglamorized and mired in negativity. She displays those dramatic chops she flexed maturely in Dreamgirls, but this is very much Brooks', and to a lesser extent Dizon's picture. The two reflect a powerful sense that will have audiences rooting for them, not because of empathy, but because the duo exude so much heart. Armed with big dreams and big chutzpah, Brooks and Dizon win a bigger war at the end of Inevitable. The young boys themselves do not remain entirely innocent throughout the picture, yet their perseverance and humor, even at the most dire straits, will have audiences championing their raw power and emotion.
In the end, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete brings the vivid textures of Kings County to the forefront. George Tillman, Jr. attempts to answer a new age question asked in New York City with this film: "It's 9:00 am, do you know where your child is at?!"
Skylan Brooks and Ethan Dizon amaze and astound as an odd-couple who push through the bleak public-housing corridors into audience's hearts.
Don't believe us?! Watch the trailer for yourself below:
The film is distributed by Codeblack Films / Lionsgates and will get a limited release starting October 11th. Don't miss this when it comes your way.