“Young. Wild. Free” is more than a cute but very chaotic love story. It also allows Sierra Capri to be the rare depiction of the chaotic, life-altering female lead thus far, almost exclusively played by White women.
|Director(s)||Thembi L. Banks|
|Screenplay By||Thembi L. Banks, Juel Taylor|
|Based On||A Story By Tony Rettenmaier, Juel Taylor|
|Date Released (Film Festival – Sundance Film Festival 2023)||1/24/2023|
|Genre(s)||Crime, Romance, Young Adult|
|Duration||1 Hour and 52 Minutes|
|Content Rating||Not Rated|
|Brandon Huffman||Algee Smith|
|Janice Huffman||Sanaa Lathan|
|Trey Huffman||Jeremiah King|
|Ciara Huffman||Isa Eden|
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Brandon’s life is going downhill. He just got fired from his job, his mom, Janice, is off her lithium again, and the father of his younger siblings, Trey and Ciara, Lamont, is selling his mom’s medication. But, besides that, Brandon also has to worry about the house he lives in, which is paid for, being taken due to back taxes.
Enter Cassidy. She is a pure chaos force who distracts Brandon from his life and renews it in some ways, but as much as she brings life, she also shows a penchant for destruction. Leaving you on a journey that will make you wonder if Brandon may end “Young. Wild. Free” in the penitentiary or just with a few crazy stories to tell.
Things To Note
- The folks behind “Black Love” produced this
Why Is “Young. Wild. Free” Rated Not Rated
- Dialog: Cursing and use of the N-word throughout
- Violence: Gun violence, blood
- Sexual Content: No nudity, but implied sex
- Miscellaneous: Smoking, drinking, and drug use
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Who influenced Cassidy?
No regrets or shame in the discovery.
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
Just on the verge of graduating high school, Brandon may not have much going for him, but he does have that and his artistic talent. But, with having to help take care of his younger siblings, deal with a mom who is off and on her medication, and tasked with being the man in the house? Brandon is going through a lot. Add in his dad not being around, and you see a kid stuck between trying to not give a damn and collapsing under immense pressure.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Mick in the upcoming “Brooklyn,” Chris McKay in “Euphoria,” and Khalil in “The Hate U Give.”
A single mom trying to work things out with the father of her two youngest, Janice is struggling a bit. Her job doesn’t pay enough, her oldest son calls her by her first name due to past mistakes, and she has mental health issues. But she is trying. Maybe not as hard as she could or Brandon would like, but life isn’t a crystal staircase.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: An unknown role in the upcoming “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat,” Robyn Stewart in the “Best Man” franchise, and Donna Tubbs in “The Cleveland Show” and “Family Guy.”
Trey is Janice’s second son, who is cool with his dad, Lamont, but closer to Brandon.
Ciara is Janice’s only daughter, Lamont’s daughter, who adores Brandon with all her little heart and would rather sleep with him if she has a nightmare than her own momma.
Lamont is Trey and Ciara’s daddy, who Brandon hates. The reason? Right now, just because he sells the lithium his mom needs to balance out her brain chemicals. However, there likely is more to it than the film reveals.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Day-Day in the “Friday” franchise, an unknown role in the upcoming “Madame Webb” and Bernard Upshaw in “The Upshaws.”
Cassidy is the new girl at school, and from her eccentric style, love for movies, and being wildly uninhibited, she shakes up Brandon’s world. In some ways, you can see it as a good thing, since she helps him become a kid. However, in other ways, she enables the worst of him and leads him down a path where there is potentially no return.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Kai in “American Skin” and Monse Finnie in “On My Block”
Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)
Notable Performances or Moments
Sierra Capri as Cassidy
What Capri brings to “Young. Wild. Free” is the type of potentially iconic character Black women aren’t given the opportunity to be. She is weird, dangerous, alluring, and someone you can’t take your eyes off because she is so unpredictable that you can’t help but be both scared and amazed by her every move. Yet, as much as you could submit she can veer towards potentially being a Manic-Pixie Dream Girl, there is such a desire to say Capri’s portrayal and the writing of Thembi L. Banks and Juel Taylor wants her to be more than that.
Cassidy is supposed to be what freedom looks like. She dresses in eccentric ways, isn’t defined much by race or class, and while she may not be all there, like Janice, there is a clear sign there is more to her story than the film lets on. Or rather, that is dreamed up.
On The Fence
Its Depiction Of Mental Health
Mental Health is a big theme in “Young. Wild. Free” regarding Janice’s mental health, Brandon’s, and Cassidy’s. Now, with Janice, it is rooted in her struggles with having a mood disorder and the stress of never having enough money. However, things are a bit more complicated with Brandon and Cassidy. With Cassidy, you can see someone who chases a high, may not have the best sense of morality.
Then with Brandon? As his mental starts to unravel, in some ways, you can appreciate what Banks and Taylor push out through these actors and the twist it creates. Yet, it is hard to say whether the route taken with Brandon, for the sake of entertainment, is something not to think too seriously about and just see as entertainment, if not a nod to many movies with characters like him. Or, considering Janice’s storyline, a missed opportunity to show what happens when someone’s mental state goes unchecked, ignored, or simply undiagnosed and is triggered by stressors that take them over the deep end.