Five Star Screen 7 articles

Five Star

2014

Five Star Poster
  • Five Star maintains the same character-study structure while generating interest from pulpier elements, and while some this works in terms of nuanced portraiture, the film feels more menaced by the crime-drama theatrics than enlivened by them.

  • To the extent that the film has a narrative, it’s an overly familiar one—just your basic cautionary tale about gang life. But those street-smart clichés are still more compelling than the details of the characters’ everyday lives, which too often cross the line that separates incisive low-key naturalism from mundane tedium.

  • The writer and director Keith Miller establishes engaging characters but stifles their thoughts and emotions, sets up dramatic situations but avoids their practicalities and implications. The movie is little more than its plot, and much of the plot, for all the suspense it arouses, falls back on clichés. The hearty actors, who are nonprofessionals, convey much more depth than the script and the direction do; Miller’s blend of documentary and fiction stints on both.

  • Miller’s project may be worthy, but it also makes for good movies. Grant is such a natural in front of the camera that Miller gives him an extended, single-take, cold-opening monologue about prison, parenthood, and regret (all of it autobiographical, according to the actor)—the kind of scene that only a star can pull off.

  • Visually, Five Star is far slicker than its predecessor [Miller's Welcome to Pine Hill], with a sun-dappled shaky-cam naturalism that wouldn’t be out of place in Sundance competition; it is also far wiser and more complex than most films landing that slot, undercutting what could be an exercise in masculine showboating with decidedly jagged character arcs: Primo buys a suit and agrees to a shady job in short order, and neither are plot points so much as data points.

  • Straight out of Brooklyn comes Keith Miller’s “Five Star,” a low-key but powerfully affecting urban drama that tells a familiar story — of drugs, power and respect on the inner-city streets — with such unusual authenticity and dramatic force that it’s as if we’re seeing it for the first time.

  • Slow and steady, and with remarkable assuredness, Keith Miller’s “Five Star” plays mean-streets drama in the lowest of keys. Relying on neither raised voices nor cocked weapons — although both appear sparingly — this documentary-fiction hybrid observes gang culture with a calm eye and a clear head.