Review: Rodriguez saves 'Filly's' uneven script
This publicity photo provided by Pantelion Films shows Jenni Rivera as Maria Tonorio in a scene from the film, "Filly Brown." The film releases on April 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Pantelion Films/Lionsgate, John Castillo)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — As both an actor and a rapper, Gina Rodriguez gives an empowered performance in "Filly Brown," playing a young Los Angeles woman angling for hip-hop stardom as a means to help spring her mother from prison. But the heavy-handed, untidy story sense of co-directors Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos means not everything that surrounds the central figure has the same grit and authenticity.
Borrowing stereotypical situations from urban African-American dramas and reworking them with Latino characters is not the same as bringing something fresh to the screen. But the intensity of Rodriguez's work, the muscular energy and slick style of the film and the pumping soundtrack should give it some commercial traction.
This publicity photo provided by Pantelion Films shows Lou Diamond Phillips in a scene from the film, "Filly Brown." The film releases on April 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Pantelion Films/Lionsgate, John Castillo)
Raised by her construction foreman father Jose (Lou Diamond Phillips) ever since her junkie mother Maria (the late Jenni Rivera) was incarcerated on drug charges, Majo (Rodriquez) has had to grow up fast. That includes keeping her pretty 17-year-old sister Lupe (Chrissie Fit) in line. Jose wants the girls to stay away from their mother's toxic influence, but Majo visits her in secret.
Informed by her mother of a possible break in her case, Majo seeks help from Maria's lawyer (Edward James Olmos). But Maria cares less about legal assistance than about raising $3,000 to pay a shady-sounding contact who "gets things done." Why Majo never questions this ambiguous strategy — even as she's forking over the hard-won dough to a patently sleazy operator — is one of many ways in which Delara's screenplay undercuts the character's intelligence.