[Courtesy of Sony Classics]

Movie Review: We Grown Now

09:00 April 26, 2024
By: David Vicari

We Grown Now (2023)

We Grown Now is a quiet and thoughtful drama about the day to day lives of two young boys living in the Cabrini-Green public housing projects in Chicago, circa 1992. Best friends Malik (Blake Cameron James) and Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez) do what they can to escape the mundane life of poverty, whether that is skipping class or stunt jumping on old mattresses. After the shocking death of a child in the neighborhood by a stray bullet, the boys begin to question their own existence. Of course, Malik's mother (Jurnee Smollett) and Eric's father (Lil Rey Howery) worry more and more about their children.

The power of We Grown Now comes from the quiet scenes of Malik and Eric sharing their hopes and dreams...and fears. James and Ramirez are very good, delivering very natural performances. They never appear like they are "acting."

We Grown Now won the Changemaker Award at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, and it also won the Audience Choice Award for Best U.S. Feature at the Chicago International Film Festival. It's written and directed by Minhal Baig, and she's a confident filmmaker who isn't afraid to let scenes play out in near silence. The film also has some absolutely beautiful and creative cinematography by Pat Scola.

There are two scenes that are a little overly dramatic, but We Grown Now is so well done that it earns the right to do that. The movie builds to an incredibly emotional final scene that will just sneak up on you.

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