VOD Review - Where Children Play

This appears to be the fifth feature by Leila Djansi. It's her second feature with Brian White and Leon Robinson in significant roles. It follows And Then There Was You (2013). While the female protagonist here is more interesting than the one in Djansi's previous, the melodrama isn't and is a little over-the-top here. It devolves into extreme victim-hood and issues of incest that have become a trope in black stories. Given recent sexual assault reports in the news with regard to high-profile, black figures, this movie gives breath to what the psychological effects can be, even tangentially to that kind of abuse.

Teyonah Parris (Dear White People and Chi-Raq) stars as Belle, a young woman who works the desk at a hotel in Savannah, Georgia. She's having a bit of financial trouble. She's behind on her rent. Her roommate Tyler lets her by because she occasionally has sex with him. One day, her aunt Helen, played by Macy Gray, shows up at her hotel and announces that Belle's mom is dead.

Brian White (Brick and The Family Stone) co-stars as Jeremy, a nonprofit executive who is currently doing fundraising for a youth center, while also coaching teenage boys in lacrosse. Jeremy is very different from White's character in Djansi's previous. He's white-collar, not blue-collar and has different thoughts about sex and relationships. He's a guy who likes camping.

Leon Robinson (The Five Heartbeats and Cool Runnings) has a small role as David McCain, the father of Belle. He has about as much screen time as he did in Djansi's previous. He's also as antagonistic as he was in Djansi's previous, if not more. He's really good at playing angry, bitter and practically villainous. David is bedridden and on dialysis. He spends most of the movie unconscious but still manages to be menacing.

When Belle's mom dies, Belle is asked to move to Los Angeles to take care of her dad who is very sick. However, she refuses to do anything for him. Belle really doesn't want anything to do with him. The question is why and if she ever will move to L.A., and get her life together financially. As this is going on, Djansi includes a supernatural element of having Belle talk to ghosts. It's probably hallucinations, but it's played as if Belle doesn't know at first and it's off-putting.

The thrust of the movie is about Belle's relationship with Jeremy, which is interesting. It's cute seeing him take her camping. There is an issue involving Jeremy's brother that doesn't get as much due. Belle's relationship with David is also a thrust, but she doesn't ever get to truly confront him. They don't dialogue together, and the whole thing ends with a happy family scene.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains sexuality and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 45 mins.

Available on Netflix Watch Instant.


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