And the wonderfully stylish and well-acted With Children let me know that it is nothing new, and in fact, may have been far worse the year I was born.
The story is Cecelia and her work towards buying a house in San Francisco in 1974. She's had a kid, is unmarried, and her job, and an ex, are jerking her around. She's determined to make herself a home-owner She works hard, so very very hard, and she fights for that dream of giving her daughter a better future away from the shelter she's in.
Lissette Feliciano is fantastic, and this film seems to sing in her voice. Her performance as Cecilia is precise, intelligent, heart-felt, and moving. Her script is so strong, with nearly perfect pacing and a strong sense of purpose to every interaction between characters. The direction is wonderful. Combined with strong shooting and editing, and a very smart use of music that never feels over-powering and it not used, as it is so often, to set the period of the film. Instead, the music is an accent, and one that is applied to the character and emotional status of the film, not to the setting or timeframe, which I found refreshing. The acting over-all is wonderful, but I also have to give a shout-out to what always catches my attention in a film - title design. The opening and closing credits are wonderful, and they set the tone, the timeframe, and the closing credits, an attachment to the time period that is heart-warming. This is a film that is constructed to bring us closer to our main character and her struggle, and to the problematic world of housing law and the realities of housing practices. I love the way that this feels as if we are able to connect with a character who is both of her time, and of our time simultaneously, dealing with issues that we saw, see, and will certainly continue to see.
This is a film that addresses the issues of the present using the issues of the past, issues that are still present and with us in different levels, different directions. The story is the same; there are those who can get the dream, and those who can not. The struggle to live in this area, in San Francisco, in Silicon Valley, in many if not most of the major cities of the US, is real, and there are always stumbling blocks placed in front of those of us who are seen as outside the desirable categories. It is a story that I can say I witnessed first-hand in the 1980s with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, in the 1990s with my friends. In With Children, it is a single Latina mother who throws herself into a life of near all-day work who is kept from her dream of home ownership. Today, it is pretty much anyone who is not a tech worker making 100K+ a year, and even more difficult for minority populations to achieve any sort of housing in these parts. Then, it was the desire to have families filling housing, today it is the desire for rich-kid tech-worker singles who toil in the office 15 hours-a-day. The song is the same; the chorus and the verse simply seem to have traded places.
I love this film's message, and more importantly, I love this film.
With Children shows with The Listen Project at the Hammer Theatre in Downtown SJ on Wed, Mar 8 7:15 PM, and at Century 20 Redwood City - Screen 3 Fri, Mar 10 4:15 PM, Sat, Mar 11 1:15 PM, and Sun, Mar 12 3:40 PM