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A young Red Crow girl lets us into her world and has us exposed to what Native Americans deal with in the pursuit of surviving.
Trigger Warning(s): Suicide, Rape, and Violence Against Children
Review (with Spoilers)
Characters & Story
Aila’s (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs) life didn’t allow her to stay a child for long. For with her father going to prison, and then mother’s suicide, she was forced to grow up quick if she wanted to survive. Especially with an uncle like Burner (Brandon Oakes) and a man like Popper (Mark Antony Krupa) running around. However, with dreams of one day escaping, possibly by any means necessary, you have to wonder if her dreams may come true, or would she live as her people in an environment which is oppressive and stunted in time.
When it comes to Rhymes for Young Ghouls, perhaps the main one who leaves with your interest is Jacobs. For truly, her portrayal of Aila is something fearsome, especially when you take into consideration how she handles all that is thrown at Aila. After all, Aila is a girl who bears the weight of thinking people died because of her and somehow in Jacobs’ eyes you can see the weight of this guilt. Though what also makes the film and Jacobs’ performance, something is how brutal it is.
Such as us seeing what may likely be the lives Red Crows, and other native tribes, have on their reservations. One which drugs and alcoholism maybe a troublesome force, but they don’t compare to those who would attempt to erase their heritage and finish off the genocide started long ago. And while you would think only the adults would be subject to the oppression and violence, that isn’t the case here. As noted in the story summary, people don’t remain children long and in almost every actor you can see the effect of that. For with Aila herself being punched in the face, hit with a weapon, and then stripped and nearly violated, this movie throws everything at Jacobs and company, and none of them rarely disappoint in their reactions.
Leading to perhaps the best thing about this film: It shows that, despite all that has happened, the Red Crows, and I’m sure other tribes, remain resilient despite all that has happened.
While not a huge issue, I do feel sometimes the film was a little slow. To the point, I often found myself just pausing the movie and doing something else for a while before returning to it. With that said, though, it could just be I found it slow because I am so normalized to violence that what happened in the film didn’t faze me. For a normal person, though, I would expect your eyes to be glued and the shock of the film’s first death, and what happens thereafter, to keep you glued until the end.
Leading to perhaps one issue that people may have problems with: there isn’t any Native American, or indigenous person, who doesn’t seem involved with drugs, violence or alcoholism. I mean, there are the kids, who for the most part are pure, but you don’t see a lot of hope and possibility for better. Which may be an issue for someone who may want at least one positive, possibly non-problematic, portrayal of someone Indian.
Overall: Worth Seeing
Even setting aside Jacobs superb performance, what makes this film worth seeing is the rare point of view, and the fact most of the actors seemingly are of indigenous origin. Which is worth noting for seeing an indigenous actor seems extremely rare, even for roles like Tiger Lily, in the upcoming Pan, which you’d think they would be cast in. That thought aside, the film certainly seems like a launch pad for Jacobs’ career and between an excellent story, great performances from all those involved, and enough shocking moments to keep a normal person glued to the screen, this should definitely be on your watch list.
Things To Note
Do not use Amazon Instant Video to watch this. For one, if you choose to rent they give you, from starting the movie, 24 hours to finish it. Then, on top of that, seemingly if you don’t have an HDCP monitor, you may deal with what I did. Which was stuttering noises and little glitches in the video, even if you go from Microsoft Silverlight to Flash.
“Sometimes courage means gritting your teeth and moving forward, and not paying attention to the consequences.”
— Rhymes For Young Ghouls
“My father is not what anyone would call a good man. [He is] More like a man who did good things for wrong reasons, and wrong things for good reasons.”
— Rhymes For Young Ghouls
“If you’re good at one thing, apply it to everything.”
— Rhymes for Young Ghouls