It could be tempting to say that the almost relentless drama contained within William L. Cochran's urban drama Englewood - The Growing Pains in Chicago.
It could be. The problem with becoming weary of the film's is that the drama is real and the attention it commands from us, the audience, is hard-earned and well deserved. The film centers around three young men growing up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. They're united by their desire to survive their senior yet, yet divided by the widely varying ways in which they live their lives.
Chicago filmmaker William L. Cochran started the production company Forever Foreign Films in 2009 with the vision of creating films that entertain, enlighten and encourage their audiences and communities to evolve. While the urban drama has been done to death, with results both miraculous and pathetic, Cochran's Englewood deserves an audience with a story that is intelligent and emotionally involving along with performances, especially from the key three players, that radiate both the hopelessness that can so often be found within the inner-city and the hope that is also so often planted in ways big and small.
Cochran himself gives a heartfelt and honest performance as Dennis, while Rodney Harvey absolutely rocks it as Calvin and David Cowan shines as Joshua. Among the supporting players, Mahogany Monae particularly stands out as Toya, an expressive young woman with a powerful voice who begins to impact those around her.
D.P. Brandon Riley captures the grittiness of Chicago's inner-city, but also does a masterful job of weaving into the film imagery that elicits hopefulness, humanity and even touches of humor. Englewood features an awesome soundtrack that includes the likes of Christopher Lemark, Hi Money Ransom, Mikkey Halsted, Badseedz, Rello, Roger MacNaughton, Christopher Bell, Kevin MacLeod, Walter Grund and a duo labeled as T.Marino/V.Marino.
Englewood isn't a flawless film. There are performances that are a tad hit-and-miss, while the film's pacing does on occasion miss a bit in a way that lessens a scene's dramatic impact. Yet for every slight misstep, Cochran bounces back with style, sincerity and complete and utter conviction.
The recently completed Englewood has already been accepted into three festivals including the San Francisco Black Film Festival, Boston's Roxbury International Film Festival and the Gene Siskel Film Center's 18th Annual Black Harvest Festival. For more information on Englewood, visit the film's website listed in the credits and be sure to catch it if it arrives at a festival near you.