Wah Do Dem (What They Do) Film Review - An Official Selection of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival

                

When his girlfriend dumps him two days before an all expense paid cruise to Jamaica, Max (Sean Bones) is bummed to say the least. Unable to find a cruise mate on such short notice, he goes on the trip stag, determined to have the time of his life, alone. Food is everywhere, alcohol is abundant and Max can pretty much do anything he wants.  After only a few days, he has little success with making any real friends and his cruise is turning out to be a lot like “going to bingo with his grandmother”.

Finally the ship docks in Jamaica and Max jumps at the chance to wonder on dry land for a while.  He befriends a local who takes him to a killer beach: white sand, clear water, no other tourists in sight. Once he finishes his maiden swim in the tropical paradise, he finds that his new friend, with girlfriend in tow, has taken his bag. Suddenly Max has no money, no passport, not even the shirt on his back, not to mention shoes. He makes it back to port in time to see his cruise ship leaving the harbor. His only recourse, somehow, get to the American Embassy in Kingston.

From there, the story pretty much goes exactly as you would expect. The bus he takes to Kingston breaks down, then leaves without him. The only bridge to Kingston is rained out and there seems to be no friendly way across to the other side. And the obligatory “Shaiman” appears just in time (with drugs) to give Max the usual “spiritual moment” accompanied by drums, lots of drums.

Wah Do Dem  (What They Do) is very much about the journey and not so much about the destination. Bones portrays a character that is certainly likable but not particularly charismatic, and this film hinges very much on the audience liking this guy. If you don’t like Max, it will be a long movie for you. Moreover, since you know that Max is not actually in any real danger, there is no real dramatic tense in this story either. But there is plenty of eye candy since the cinematic landscape of the film as a whole is quite breathtaking.  The footage, from the crystal, elegance of the cruise ship to spread after spread after spread of Jamacia’s fantastic tropical natural wonders is simply spectacular.

I certainly applaud Filmmakers Ben Chace and Sam Fleischner for their creativity in getting a lovely “No-budget” film made by any means necessary. I just wish I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen and how it would end five minutes into the film.

Wah Dem Do (What They Do) is a selection in the Narrative Competition at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival happening all over Westwood now, through June 28th.

www.lafilmfest.com

 

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