Directed by Keith Miller
After John’s absent father is struck by a stray bullet, Primo takes it upon himself to verse the young boy in the code of the streets—one founded on respect and upheld by fear. A member of the Bloods since the age of twelve—both in the film and in reality—the streets of Brooklyn are all Primo has ever known. While John questions whether or not to enter into this life, Primo must decide whether to leave it all behind as he vows to become a better husband and father. Set during those New York summer weeks where the stifling heat seems to encase everything, Five Star plunges into gang culture with searing intensity. Director Keith Miller observes the lives of these two men with a quiet yet pointed distance, carefully eschewing worn clichés through its unflinching focus. Distinctions between fiction and real life remain intentionally ambiguous, allowing the story of these two men to resonate beyond the streets, as they face the question of what it means to be a man.
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★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
i saw next to nothing at TFF this year, but i'd bet this would be a standout even if i had. i wrote a bunch about it here but then letterboxd swallowed it, and i'm too lazy to repeat myself / too aware that whatever i wrote wasn't worth repeating. but change the title to "5 STAR", launch it on VOD, and knockout anyone fortunate enough to rent it.
★★★½ review by Gustaf Ottosson on Letterboxd
Nr 141 on All Films I Saw 2015 (Ranked)
Part of the Stockholm Film Festival 2014
This is probably one of the most un-violent films about gangs that you'll ever going to see. Instead of relying on drive-by:s, exaggerated slang and all the other antics that comes with the subject, Five Star builds believable and authentic characters and spend exactly the time exploring these that they deserve. Thank you for letting me peek into a world that I never want to come in contact with in real life.
★★★½ review by Dustin Baker on Letterboxd
A down to earth film dealing with subject matter that's usually portrayed over the top and as gregarious as possible. Using real, sympathetic actors and an atmosphere that draws you in like a lazy afternoon, it's easy to get wrapped up in the day to day goings on here. The story itself ends up being not entirely worth remembering, repeating echoes of other films in its structure, and ultimately brings it down a bit.
★★★½ review by skyhir on Letterboxd
Delivering and then some on the promise of Miller’s Welcome to Pine Hill, Five Star is premised on a conception of absolute power so absurd it’s almost funny: the “five star” of the title is attributed to gang leaders so universally respected that, in turn, they are resented and despised. Visually, Five Star is far slicker than its predecessor, 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.
★★★★ review by Jason Bailey on Letterboxd
Writer/director/Editor Keith Miller crafts this Brooklyn gang drama with an offhand naturalism, filling it with conversations that feel overheard and scenes that seem captured without preparation. As a result, some of the scenes run on a bit too long, sacrificing dynamism for the sake of reality, and the familiarity of the narrative results in some unfortunately clichéd dialogue (“Sad to say, it was just business”). But nonetheless, this is a forceful and bracing ground-level portrait, contrasting a young man working his way into “the life” with an older power player longing to get out. And first-timer James “Primo” Grant is astonishingly good in the leading role, suggesting but never insisting on either his power or his complexity.
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