SXSW 2022: Societal Optics And Sharp Social Commentary – ‘Emergency’ Reviewed

On its surface, Emergency seems like another addition to the college party genre. However, the longer the film goes, you begin to see its depth as it addresses topical social issues and the reality of optics.

The story follows two best friends, Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and Sean (RJ Cyler), who are college seniors ready to embark on a legendary tour of parties during their spring break. Their plans take a U-turn when they discover the door to their apartment open and an inebriated drunk white female barely conscious on the floor. Their other roommate, Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) was too immersed in playing video games to hear their visitor come in and the friends wrestle with the moral dilemma to find help against the appearance and conclusions drawn from a passed out white girl in the home of three young men of color.

One thing noticeable right off the bat is an insightful script from writer, K.D. Dávila. There is smart dialog that touches upon interesting perspectives with regards to race. The use of humor lightens the mood and makes such discussions a little more palatable. Even the different life experiences between the two main characters, who are black, bring another level of nuance to the conversation. As effective are the more subtle, yet as important, observations. As the trio make their way to the hospital, true allyships in movements such as Black Lives Matter, the economic disparities between the students and locals of a college town, and the skin tone of people of color are all covered.

At a certain point of Emergency, there is a tonal shift from edgy comedy to darker themes. Director, Carey Williams, deftly manages this change through an organic progression without losing the story’s momentum. It could be easy to slip in a smart aleck joke here and there, but Williams provides the care and reverence the sensitive and serious topics require. In the final conflict, he creates a gripping and chaotic scene that will forever change everyone involved.

As engaging as the movie is, it does feel drawn out early as the three friends make multiple stops on their journey to the hospital. In addition, the reconciliation between Kunle and Sean in the end is a little unsatisfactory. It tries to give each some understanding from the other’s point of view but Sean’s actions were so drastic, he seems to be forgiven pretty easily, even after his kind gesture.

Emergency draws you in with the college comedy but leaves you better with the sharp and provocative social commentary.

On its surface, Emergency seems like another addition to the college party genre. However, the longer the film goes, youCOMICONRead More

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