Monica Sorelle’s narrative feature debut is a slice-of-life portrait of an immigrant worker and family man gradually contending with his class aspirations and housing insecurities in a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood.
Based in the immigrant enclave of Little Haiti in Miami, Xavier (a quietly potent Atibon Nazaire) is a middle-aged, working-class Haitian demolition worker who hopes to one day buy his beloved seamstress wife, Esperance (a radiant Sheila Anozier), a new and spacious suburban home. Meanwhile, their doted-on college-dropout son Junior (Chris Renois) struggles against his father's rigid expectations by day while quietly pursuing a career as a stand-up comic by night.
A languid character study, Monica Sorelle’s realist drama first knots then slowly disentangles the intricate symbolism of Xavier’s blue-collar livelihood, which renders him simultaneously complicit and vulnerable. The director keenly observes her characters, filming kitchen chatter, marital pillowtalk, community festivity, workplace camaraderie, and neighbourhood gossip with immediacy and an artful naturalism.
Javier Labrador Deulofeu’s elegant cinematography captures driver’s-seat views of shifting residential landscapes: the debris-laden vastness of demolition sites and a warmly familiar but fragile domesticity to reveal an intimate and fatigued psychogeography. Sorelle brings us closer toward her protagonist’s interior wrestling match, stilling at a hermetic conclusion in this exploratory and familial snapshot of fraying class mobility in a diasporic Black and Caribbean Miami — one seldom flanked by a turquoise shoreline but not far from the city’s encroaching skyscrapers.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival