DOWN for LIFE
As a young girl, my favorite film was "Le Ballon Rouge," or in English, "The Red Balloon." I loved the idea of a following a day, in the life of an individual or the course of the sun's rays over a bridge. What counts for a day? Alan Jacob's film "Down for Life" follows a girl much as my favorite French film follows a boy running after a red balloon. The only difference is that the narrator's chase is for her own red blood, as she runs toward the "protection" of her gang sisterhood and away from death. Unlike the French film, the protagonist is not bored. Rather, she is the product of her harsh limited experiences, a life weighed by the pain of hurt and abuse she has suffered as a young Latina woman in South Central L.A. I speak of blood and human suffering, as the film is brutally honest to the extent of its form. In fact, its filming style is as raw as its LA ghetto streets and even mimetic of Cinéma vérité. Jacob's choices are evidently intentional, when during the ending of the film, your heart has been robbed and you know it was supposed to be. Just as in life, and in real life events and people, the events of the film are not black and white. Who is to blame for the tragedy of the film? The protagonist? The protagonist's parents? A culture of poverty? The failures of American society? Or are WE to blame? Jacob's film successfully captures human tragedy more than we want to accept and raises the level of compassion for our inherently flawed humankind who does its best to survive. Inspiring, and eye-opening, Jacob's day in the life of a teen gang, is a must-see.