WE GROWN NOW – Review by Cate Marquis

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

A remarkable, moving coming-of-age tale of childhood and friendship, We Grown Now tells a tale of two best friends that shows that it is the people who make the memories of a place. Grade-schoolers Malik (Blake Cameron James) and Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez) are inseparable best friends, and although their families have little material wealth, they play with the joy and hopes and dreams of any children. They are surrounded by their loving families and the playground is filled with other children. But it is 1992, and change is on the horizon for the Cabrini Green housing complex in Chicago where they live. Malik lives with his hard-working mother (Jurnee Smollett), younger sister and grandmother, while next door neighbor Eric lives with his equally hard-working widowed father and older sister. Both parents strive to raise their children right but the place where both parents grew up is shifting from somewhere for families where children play carefree, to a place where elevators no longer work, broken faucets don’t get fixed, and violence is rising around them. When a stray bullet kills a schoolmate, that change accelerates, with fearful parents and then the police showing up at 2:00 AM to search everyone’s apartment for drugs. Director Minhal Baig does a beautiful job of creating a sense of time and place from a child’s point of view, and uses the story of the boys’ friendship to illustrate the history, from the Great Migration from the South that took place a generation earlier, to rising violence, the War On Drugs, Mayor Daly’s policies and ultimately the fall of public housing. The performances are excellent, especially from the boys, who movingly convey the universal bond of childhood friendship – inseparable friends until circumstances pull them apart.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Cate Marquis

Cate Marquis is a film critic and historian based in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Marquis reviews film for the St. Louis Jewish Light weekly newspaper and Playback: stl website, as well as other publications. The daughter of artist Paul Marquis, she was introduced to classic and silent films by her father, as well as art and theater. Besides reviewing films, she lectures on film history, particularly the silent film era, has served on the board of the Meramec Classic Film Festival and is a long-time collaborator with the St. Louis International Film Festival, serving on various juries.