starring Carl Louis, Postell Pringle, Carl Garrison, Layla Edwards
written and directed by Ferenc Tóth
by Walter Chaw With Unknown Soldier, a film that militarizes the terminology for the plight of inner-city youth, debuting writer-director Ferenc Tóth demonstrates a nice touch behind the camera but an anvil's touch at the typewriter. The story of a young man (Ellison (Carl Louis)) who loses his father--then his mooring, then his home, then his girl--before being shamed back into respectability takes on all the tedious trappings of the new urban template for coming-of-age dramas. The digital video looks a touch over-sharp, even as the rest of the morality play washes out as a series of rote conflict-resolution scenarios delivered without much spark or surprise. Yet it's the perfect film for the festival audience, which tends towards self-congratulation on issues of social consciousness. There is a pervasive desire at these events to not only be seen, but also to be seen as sensitive to the people who can't afford to attend, and so easy-to-understand pictures like Unknown Soldier that have their hearts in the right place (i.e., right there on their sleeves) attract a lot of attention within--and almost no attention without. I'll be interested in what Tóth does next; I'm just not all that interested in what he's doing now.