I loved this whole movie, a bit slow at times but a very good mystery/love story. Low budget for sure but the actors were great and believable the only downside was the ending. All that build up just to not see how it ended was a BIG let down in my prospective. The whole story felt raw and real so definitely a good watch. A maturely emotional story so definitely not for kids. Drug use and a bit of foul language. Oh and one sex scene. I would not mind rewatching this one but as I say, the end could have been so much better. Kudos to everyone in this movie, they made it a very interesting slow burn. I would say more of a 7 because of the ending but I have a great imagination so I can imagine what could have happened so I added a star.
Drama / Thriller
Drama / Thriller
After Carlos, an impoverished teen from a fractured home, receives a desperate note from Sarah, a pen pal he lost touch with a year ago, he uses her letters to solve the mystery of her disappearance and crimes she may have been a part of.
September 25, 2022 at 02:46 PM
Tech specs720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
Watch this. You won't be sorry.
A talented writer, David Ebeltoft, and some good onscreen talent make the film well worth the viewing time. Instead of portraying the stereotypical dead-end life in a small town, in Ebeltoft's hands Root Letter becomes a story of chance meeting, betrayal, grit, and hope.
The protagonist is Sarah, a high school Senior. She has a set of selfish, drug-pushing friends. Her childhood friend betrays her. A school buddy would like to have his relationship with Sarah go further, but he is painfully unable to speak of his affection. If this isn't enough to ruin a life, Sarah's mother is addicted to opioids and casual sex.
Sarah has a talent, writing. An assignment in her English class puts her in contact, randomly, with Carlos, living a state away and recovering from a beat down administered by his girlfriend's father. Sarah's letters become his life in recovery and his life after he is released and enters the dead-end job market.
Then, without explanation, the letters stop. A year goes by, and a frightening letter from Sarah causes him to pick up stakes and find out what happened. He discovers that she is missing.
The why of all this is revealed in flashbacks interspersed with Carlos's efforts to find Sarah. Nothing goes right. But accidentally uncovering who was responsible for a death in a house breaking gone bad results in Carlos himself being saved.
The editing is choppy, leading to some of the criticism I have seen about the film's structure. The critical scene at the trunk of the car is so quickly cut that the average viewer sees nothing. The flashbacks show that the scenes were shot (or could have been shot) with greater context, but they are inserted in such a way that sometimes a bruise on Carlos's cheek is the only indicator of the passage of time.
The director's choices are questionable sometimes. For example, why does she have Sarah smile at all? Her life is uniformly awful. The chipper scenes on the trunk of a car diminish the importance of Sarah's last, almost missed smile.
Danny Ramirez's performance of Carlos is flat which is disappointing in that he is the star-power of the peace. He did not bring his A-game. But a C-game doesn't ruin the show. Keana Marie's Sarah is not an award-winning performance either, but she is suitably young, suitably pissed off at her scummy friends and justly horrified and hopefully loving of her far-to-gone mother.
It's the supporting actors, Lydia Hearst and Breon Pugh that prop up the talent array here. Hearst's version of Sarah's Mom is realistic and a cautionary tale. Breon Pugh as Sarah's kind friend is vulnerable, scared to death of resisting his drug-dealing buddy and of telling Sarah about his feelings for her. These are good performances.
The production design is fine. It looks a little staged at times, but not distractingly so. The costume work is right-on.
So, with all these "not-so-greats" and a only a couple of well-deserved atta-boys for writing and supporting actors, why is this film a 9-star item?
It is an Indie film. As a rule, Indie films require the audience's attention. If you give Root letter your attention, it will reward you. If you lean back in your couch, popcorn in lap, expecting every storyline, every back story, every emotion to be handed to you on a platter (as some critics of the show seem to think is required); or if you require every nuance to be so clear that it isn't a nuance anymore, then you won't find much to like here.
The platter is plenty full in Root Letter. You just need to access it with your mind and, with the ending being what it is, with your heart too.
Based on the best-selling Japanese video game from Kadokawa Games - I had no idea of that when I watched - Root Letter is about Carlos (Danny Ramirez), a young man trying to reconnect with pen pal Sarah (Keana Marie) after she writes to tell him that she has killed someone. She's since disappeared, so he travels to her hometown in an attempt to learn exactly what went down.
Directed by Sonja O'Hara and written by David Ebeltoft, this movie deals with some very real issues: Carlos has lost his mother to deportation and his father isn't in the picture while Sarah has raised herself thanks to having a mother with opioid addiction. However, once she decides to join her friends Caleb and Jackson in selling the drugs, even worse things start to happen.
What started as a grade school assignment to write letters has turned into a friendship and something to look forward to. When those letters stop, Carlos doesn't notice at first until he gets one last letter that turns his friend's existence into a problem that he must solve.
What we're left with is a mystery and a question: how much do we really know anybody, even if we've shared the intimacy of written words with one another?