Hakeem (Nabil Rajo) has a lot on his shoulders as a teenager in Montreal. His best friend Anthony (Jahmil French) is always in trouble at school making Hakeem often guilty by association. He lives with his hard-working proud mother Amina (Olunike Adekiyi) and younger brother Ali (Djibril Toure) in a small bad neighbourhood apartment. After school, he goes to for with Anthony at Uncle Ramaz' (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) car wash. However, Ramaz is involved in shady business operations on the fringes that had severe consequences for Hakeem's dad.
Writer-director Darren Curtis starts with a common premise that builds in unexpected directions through staging and writing. The helmer has an innate ability to create tension at every turn of the production. Curtis set the bulk of the story in Montreal's Parc-Ex melting pot. It's a culturally rich community where children of immigrants switch often back their parents' language English and French.
Hakeem and Anthony continue down the path towards Ramaz' shadier activities as the action unfolds. Ram's heavies Ilija and Aleksy are always lurking around the car wash and at the scrap yard owned by the businessman. After the pair dip their toes into this world Hakeem makes a purchase where he meets Maxine (Juliette Gariepy) then later Anna (Juliette Gosselin) The pair join Hakeem and A-Mac for a night of cruising which produces the most carefree moments of the film. However, Curtis can't resist injecting some suspense even in the most light-hearted moments.
Nabil Rajo is not out of place as the central character Hakeem. He is in just about every frame of the picture switching hats between best friend, loyal soldier, love interest, big brother son and family breadwinner. His hectic life leaves little time for being a teenager. Jahmil French does a lot with the role of troublemaking screw up. He plays A-Mac as more self-aware than expected adding to the drama and angst in the story. Olunike Adeliyi continues a string of strong Canadian indie roles as Hakeem's mother Amina. She is trying to raise her sons on her own terms all the time weary of Ram's activities as that lead to her husband's downfall and could now take her son.
Boost is the singular vision of an immigrant son trying to balance doing the right thing vs the lure of quick money knowing that his family is struggling to get by. The protagonist has a challenging best friend, difficulties focusing on
school and work and a very complicated relationship with his absent dad. It's a solid piece of Canadian indie filming that is worth a watch.
*** Out of 4
Boost | Darren Curtis | Canada | 2018 | 95 Minutes.
Tags: High School, Eritrean, Suspension, Car Wash, Car Theft, Cadillac, Montreal, BMW, Joyride, Food Court.