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Flix at :48: 'Emergency' shows that good film-making is about feelings

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A poster for the film "Emergency." It features nine faces or parts of faces.

What starts out as an annoyingly banal college buddy film abruptly shifts to a conflicting expedition between right and wrong, between compassion and self-preservation and between Black and White. This film is Emergency. As two talented, Black, college boys prepare for a historic night of sexy exclusive parties, their plans are shaken up when, before going out, they find a little white girl lying unconscious in their home...possibly under a cloud of drugs and alcohol. Then it starts getting interesting!

Emergency is directed by Carey Williams (R#J, 2021) an exciting growing voice in independent film telling fresh inventive stories on the contemporary facets of race similar to the 2019 films The Last Black Man in San Francisco and See You Yesterday. When these two college friends assess this situation of an unconscious girl vomiting on their living room floor, one friend wants to call the police immediately. And the other friend wants to avoid the police at all costs. This initial conflict is brilliantly personal and gives an impetus to a story that is simultaneously realistic and unpredictable.

Emergency feels like one part Superbad (2007) and one part Queen & Slim (2019) offering topical social commentary on racial anxieties in a specifically youthful world. In this current time, there's so many new releases devoted to nothing but the physical powers of masculinity with large-scale lackluster results. These new releases include The Adam Project, Ambulance, the Doctor Strange sequel, Morbius and the most recently released, Top Gun: Maverick. But with Emergency, I'm happy to see at least one new film (with two, straight, male leads) that is not all about big fights, big guns and big machines. Emergency remains a great piece of filmmaking because it's about feelings. (How does it feel to be ordered by strangers to leave a specific neighborhood? How does it feel to have a loaded gun pointed at your face?)

Yes. It tries too hard to be funny in numerous spots, apparently to lighten the serious mood. But it doesn't need that. Featuring two terrific performances by actors RJ Cyler (Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, 2015) and Donald Elise Watkins (Black Box, 2020), what Emergency really needs is more eyes on it to hopefully foster greater appreciation. And then hopefully foster greater understanding.

Casey T. Allen is a native of Utah who graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 2007. He has worked in many capacities throughout USU campus and enjoys his time at UPR to continually exercise his writing.