mister and pete 2

*Codeblack Films has picked up US distribution for “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” co-executive produced by Alicia Keys, directed by George Tillman Jr. and starring Jeffrey Wright, Jordin Sparks, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jennifer Hudson and Anthony Mackie.

The film, which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25, is about two abandoned and scared boys – 13-year-old Skylan Brooks as Mister and Ethan Dizon as 9-year-old Pete – trying to survive in New York City.

“Inevitable Defeat” was the debut of multiplatinum songstress Keys as an executive producer. She also serves as the film’s composer.

(L-R) Actor Skylan Brooks, producer and musician Alicia Keys, actress Jennifer Hudson and director George Tillman Jr. pose for a portrait during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the Getty Images Portrait Studio at Village at the Lift on January 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah

(L-R) Actor Skylan Brooks, producer and musician Alicia Keys, actress Jennifer Hudson and director George Tillman Jr. pose for a portrait during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the Getty Images Portrait Studio at Village at the Lift on January 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah

Here’s how one writer – at “ThisIsAFilmBlog.com – reviewed the film after it premiered at Sundance in January.

The almost insurmountable gloom that we see the protagonists face in this Sundance premiered film is a very brave and interestingly refreshing move from director George Tillman Jr. Unsettling of course, but as the title suggests the worst is ‘inevitable’, so ultimately we always know how the film will wrap up – and it’s a long way from how you’ll want it to after you’ve spent two hours in the world of Mister and Pete.

Set during a sweltering summer in New York City, our two kids, already sadly firmly amid the drug and guns culture of the Brooklyn projects, are forced to fend for themselves as Mister’s mother Gloria (played masterfully here by Jennifer Hudson) slides down the junkie slope of no return. Shot in a mere 25 days and on an eyewateringly tight budget, “The inevitable defeat of Mister and Pete” is a hugely touching and beautifully observed film, which highlights how fractious relationships between parents and children can be, and the sad impermanence of human loyalty.

Jennifer Hudson in "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete"

Jennifer Hudson in “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete”

Tillman has drawn very strong performances out of pretty much his entire cast here – which includes two “American Idol” alumni (Hudson and Jordin Sparks). The real breakout performances however are from our two kids. Mister’s paternal instinct kicks in in an admirably quick and believable fashion, and it’s this determination, brute force and attitude that is wonderfully complimented by Pete’s quirky, cute but notably damaged self. Together they work very well, but it remains clear throughout that they’re both equally vulnerable. The comedic moments that we see between the pair will make you fall in love with them even more, making it even harder to watch this sad story play out in front of you.

Some of the Sundance write ups have pointed out that not a great deal actually “happens” during their summer of struggle, arguing that it weakens the narrative of the film. Is this not exactly the point? So often in life, struggles such as this are entirely unresolved and involve hugely extended periods of “nothingness.” Yes, the middle portion of the film is protracted, but surely this is intentional in order to mirror the bleakness of what can so often be reality.

inevitable-defeat-of-mister-and-pete-skylan-brooks-ethan-dizon-sundance-film-festival-2013
Not a perfect film, and not one to watch if you’re feeling a tad vulnerable – but the strength of the performances and the delicacy with which these difficult subject matters are dealt with will no doubt make it an indie cinema hit.

Verdict:
3.5 out of 5
Desperately sad, sadly real, with some genuinely funny moments thrown in.

Watch a clip from the film below.