Hiding in Plain Sight is the feature film directorial debut of M. Legend Brown, giving an inside look at what many American’s have to face in economic turmoil. Darius Blackmon is the husband and father of 2 kids, struggling to find a job and provide for his family. Forced to live in their car and sleep under a bridge, the family must face the harsh realities of homelessness while still keeping hope alive for a better future. Hiding in Plain Sight is a raw, dramatic vision of something many families face everyday, that you may have never noticed.
This Movie Got Real Real:
It was as though you’ve met all of the characters in real life. The parent who doesn’t believe in the value of education. The kid who drops out of school to help provide for his family. The college educated man who can’t get a job. The teacher who is just trying to help. This film was most notable for how honest it at all was, sometimes seeming more like a reality show than a scripted film.
According to SceneItYet.com, Director Brown,
“was inspired by a conversation he overheard while visiting an uncle in the hospital. He heard a family pleading with hospital personnel about their relative who was in need of medical attention but had no health insurance. As he and the family walked behind one another towards the hospital exit, he inquired as to what the problem was. The family explained the situation to him and when they reached the family’s station wagon parked outside, Brown noticed clothes and other household items piled up in the vehicle. The family disclosed they were living out of their car. With the issue of homelessness being so prevalent in today’s society due to a real world declining economy, Brown felt it was important to shed light on the problem. He was so motivated to do this project that he completed the screenplay in only six days and shot the film in 10 days.”
Some of the acting was a bit staged, but overall, the dramatic moments were convincing and it was easy to relate to the characters. It was easy to think, what would I do in this situation? It was really hard not to sympathize. Chances are, if you’re reading this review, you have access to the internet, a privilege you probably never think about. The Blackmon’s are literally sleeping in their car, and have been for 6 months. I know for me, it’s hard to imagine what that would be like, and this movie really let you in on these people’s lives. It was hard to see such a good family in such a struggle, because it feels like you know them.
While the Blackmon’s story was the forefront of the film, a teacher from their kid’s school was very aware of the financial troubles of many of his students and was trying his best to help. He was going to parents houses who wouldn’t let their kids attend classes because they needed them to help out with funds and even tried to donate some of his own money to buy things that students needed but couldn’t afford. But the teacher had his own problems at home, with his wife not appreciating him using their money to help students.
In a lot of movies that deal with similar economics and social issues with education like Freedom Writers or Won’t Back Down, I always feel like there’s a savior that takes over the whole plot of the movie, taking away from some of the other points that the movie could make. I really appreciated how the teacher’s story was told parallel to the Blackmon’s, incorporating similar issues. The difference here was that the teacher wasn’t trying to specifically help the Blackmon’s, just address the situation in general. The 2 plots coexisted with similar purposes but showed the situation from different angles while not taking away from one another, and I thought that was really clever.
The Production Value:
As an aspiring filmmaker myself, I really pay attention to a lot of things in how a movie was made. I’m sure the budget for this movie was pretty low, as it was all filmed in a short amount of time, with few location changes but there were a few things that were noticeably amateur. Some of the editing, but mostly the title sequence, could’ve been handled a bit more professionally. While production value shouldn’t determine the quality of a film, and for this movie, it certainly didn’t take away from the story or purpose, it just brought the movie down to a different level. Even so, the bottom line is, it’s not a big deal, it’s just obvious this isn’t a 20th Century Fox production.
In general, the acting was pretty heartfelt and convincing, but a few times, it was a bit staged. It’s hard to tell whether actors are a victim of an awkward script or a script is a victim of an awkward actor, but there were times when it seemed like characters were reading rather than really speaking from the heart. This again, doesn’t take away from the overall feeling of the movie, but just don’t expect to be blown away the entire time.
There should be more movies made like this. Real issues that real people face. The film got a bit stagnant at points, but that was almost ok as it was sort of a reflection on how the family felt, stuck. It was a well written story that actually had a purpose and will hopefully open people’s eyes. But due to it’s dramatic, somber nature, this film isn’t for everyone. It’s more than just a film for entertainment and is meant to give information and hopefully work towards a future where we don’t have people living like this. I’d recommend this film for a more mature audience who actually want to learn something. But I’d also recommend everyone see this, because it’s important for people to know about issues like these and that not every homeless person you see on the street comes from where you think.