Explicit Ills is first-time writer/director Mark Webber’s gritty paean to his home city of Philadelphia. It is sometimes spot on and absorbing about class, race and that bitch, poverty, but it falls into paint-by-numbers Indie Film 101 stereotype every so often bringing the film down to a less absorbing level. Webber’s empathy for the working class (and not-so working class) folks of Philly and the cruel shit thrust on them by their subsistence level existence is obvious with every frame of the film and every word of the script. He gets a good performance from all the actors, the most recognizable being Paul Dano and Rosario Dawson. There are heart breaking scenes here that will stay with you forever that make this flawed film worth seeing, and Webber deserves our respect for bringing the plight of the American working class to light when so many others don’t even want to admit they are out there. When so much popular entertainment is devoted to “bling” and conspicuous consumption it’s nice to see a writer/director and his talented cast spend time on the precarious paycheck-to-paycheck lives of regular Americans.
Explicit Ills. Peace Arch Home Entertainment. 87 min. Rated R . List Price $29.99.