Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Ensorcelling in found-footage vignettes intimately yet ambitiously aiming to paint racial experience through a single county’s events, with painstaking attention to detail/compositional technique stylistically pushing cinematic boundaries. 7.1/10.

Hale County,_AL — Filmmaker RaMell Ross captures small, but nevertheless precious, illuminating, emotional, moments in black lives.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review: Ensorcelling in found-footage vignettes intimately yet ambitiously aiming to paint racial experience through a single county’s events, with painstaking attention to compositional technique stylistically pushing cinematic boundaries. One of the most discussion-warranting films of the year, Ramell Ross’ ‘Hale County This Morning, This Evening’ is a certainly hypnotic Deep South doc. Peeking into several black teens’ lives in a rural Alabama county, HCTMTE manages to glean some huge and universal insights from the seemingly-ordinary and everyday scenarios pictured. Thematically, it turns many preconceived notions, stereotypes, and even historical/existential ideas on their heads and into opportunities for psychoanalysis/dissection into the deeper level of what’s going on behind the scenes through seeing, not dialogue. The shot technique and intense attention to composition and classical photorealism makes for one of the most spellbinding and hypnotic visual styles seen this year – it’s almost like a different filmic language that requires crisp attention-paying every frame and deliberation since every inclusion in the shot was put there for a reason (e.g. post-basketball sweat dripping into rain, Son of Adam apple-shaped party balloon, etc.). Now, this film will not be for everyone, or most mass audiences even unless you have a generous predisposition for indie films trying to push the boundaries of the medium – there is no comforting plot structure, overarching story or direction here so buyer beware, and the imagery can get a little overwhelmingly unsettling in parts with some admitted overdeliberation/lulls in pacing. But, the film deserves praise for its experimental style and payoffs in changing the possibilities in how film can be communicated and insightful messages delivered.

Overall Rating: 7.1/10