A Fish out of Water, Learning to Swim
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"AMERICA BROWN is one of those little Indie films that creeps up on you and despite the technical flaws and obvious low budget milieu makes a solid impact as a bit a Americana worth visiting.
America Brown aka Ricky Brown (Ryan Kwanten) is a highschool senior who happens to be a football star in his tiny West Texas town where Bo (Leo Burmester) and Coach (Frankie Faison) have pinned there efforts to break into the big time in football if Ricky fulfills his expectations. Ricky lives with his beautician mother (Karen Black) whose strident husband is dead and whose oldest son Daniel (Michael Rapaport) recently died from a heart attack. Ricky needs to breathe and escapes to Brooklyn where he traces down his personal hero, former football Texas star John Cross (Hill Harper) who has become a Catholic priest but has secrets of his own. John takes in Ricky, and Ricky begins to discover the world outside of Texas, loses his virginity to a diner waitress Vera (Natasha Lyonne) and befriends Rosie (Élodie Bouchez), whose attachment to John Cross seems to have some undercurrents. Ricky is all innocence and beautiful youth as he walks the streets of New York in his jeans, cowboy clothes and Stetson - reminiscent of Midnight Cowboy. But as his mind is exposed to the world outside Texas and football he comes to grips with a recurring unbearable nightmare: he feels responsible for his brother Daniel's death. Ricky ultimately returns to his hometown, to his loving mother, and to football, faces his demons, and learns the meaning of becoming a man.
Young Australian actor Ryan Kwanten, complete with authentic Texan twang, creates a character impossible not to love. His mixture of optimism, naiveté, and inner torture is a fine portrayal of a gifted sportsman challenging what his world expects of him. The remainder of the cast is likewise very fine. London born, Canadian writer/director Paul Black gifts us with his first feature film here and he seems to have all of the makings of a truly fine artist. Watch for his future work! Recommended. Grady Harp, November 05
An obscure gem of an independent movie
Library CD Borrower | Boston, MA | 04/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I thought I'd write a little blurb about an independent movie I've seen that got little publicity, shown practically nowhere, and has been seen by practically no one. The script is great, though there is very little humor and filled with many awkward silences so it's a bit hard-hitting. But that's understandable knowing the situation the main character is in. The waitress who plays Vera is the same girl who played the "band camp girl" in American Pie movies. She's adorable here as Ricky's first love, and frankly, not quite as flat-chested as she was in those movies - she's grown up some. There isn't really a resolution to Ricky's return except that he faces his fears and goes on with his life. The rest is left up to the imagination. A provocative, well-executed movie worth seeing, a movie better than most major-studio pictures I've seen lately."
Russell G. Lavoie | Portland, ME | 01/24/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the most imcomplete films I've ever seen. If "Ricky Brown" weren't such a likable and attractive character, I believe this film would have been unbearable. The character of the ex football player turned priest was just weird. His silence throughout the first half of the film was either bad direction or a case of over-emoting. I really wanted to like this film, as the preview on In Demand made it seem good. Actually, the preview on In Demand made it seem like a very different movie. All the characters have secrets that are never revealed, so it makes it kind of annoying trying to guess what motivates them, if anything motivates them. Apparently, Ricky Brown is gay and has decided to quit football and work in his mothers beauty shop because that's what all gay men do. But in the end you see him practicing for football. Also when Ricky, who we have discovered is gay, leaves New York, he kisses Vera goodbye as though he's in love with her. It really makes no sense. I think this film has a good premise and some decent performances, but it ultimately goes nowhere. Again, I went into it really expecting to like it, but it just didn't make the grade."