“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”
Metacritic (8/10), Rotten Tomatoes (****)
When overzealous, racist White Plains cops conduct a wellness check request that was accidentally sent by an aging, mentally ill, African-American former marine, events quickly escalate, turning an allegedly beneficial visit into an out-of-control incident that defies its supposedly inherent intent. Director David Midell’s fact-based second feature outing is, admittedly, an extremely difficult and infuriating watch, a damning indictment of uncalled-for, wholly insensitive, abusive police practices, the kind that makes one wonder who’s protecting whom (if protection itself is indeed actually involved). The up-close, claustrophobic feel generated by the film’s superb cinematography and award-nominated editing effectively draws viewers into the midst of this deeply unsettling story, making audience members squirm in discomfort, especially when one realizes it’s true. This is also made possible by the excellent performances of the fine ensemble cast, most notably Independent Spirit Award nominee Frankie Faison as the beleaguered protagonist and Enrico Natale as a police officer attempting to keep the situation from spiraling into an unmanageable frenzy. Clearly, this is not easy viewing, but it’s certainly vital watching, the kind of movie that should raise awareness – and justified anger.