Among the streets of Brooklyn, while their mothers prostitute their bodies to fund their next fix, two young kids, Mister and Pete, must fend for themselves. Alone but for their friendship, Mister and Pete struggle each day for food and safety as they flee the intimidating—and inevitable—prospect of being placed in the prison of New York’s circuit of child services.
This is the essence of director George Tillman Jr.’s (“Men of Honor,” “Barbershop”) poignant film “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete.” Taking an issue of contemporary importance, screenwriter Michael Starrbury has crafted a compelling and deeply-moving film that gives an unpretentious and sincere look at a cycle of neglect—both personal and familial—that daily undermines the generations of our future.
Though at times I found myself suddenly conscious of the somewhat mediocre pace of the script; yet strangely, I accepted it and found myself captivated by the impressive charisma of the two main characters Mister (Skylan Brooks) and Pete (Ethan Dizon). In this regard, Brooks and Dizon deliver the best child performances I have ever seen in a film: truthfully understated and all the more affective because of it.
What further renders this film remarkable is its uncompromising tone. The moderate pacing reflects the reality of the story: a journey, not an adventure; the principle difference being that the events reflect their mundane life and do not attempt to impress us with any epic tinge.
Yet, far from being tedious, the profundity of the film’s events, what makes them so compelling, lies in their life and death stakes: Mister and Pete do not battle fantastic monsters—they struggle against the crushing momentum of social forces beyond their comprehension. And this is something all viewers can relate to.
In sum, “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete” is captivating because it appeals to our universal need for love in a commonly hostile world; unlike many social-conscious films, it appeals to our hearts, not our socio-economic status. The honest humility of this story has made the American canon of film all the more better.