Review

'Drunktown's Finest' a didactic look at Navajo life

'Drunktown's Finest' is a crucial albeit didactic portrait of life on an Indian reservation

"Longmire" has done an admirable job portraying Native Americans, but one TV series is hardly enough to sustain a presence in the public consciousness. That's why it's crucial to make room for something like "Drunktown's Finest" by Navajo filmmaker Sydney Freeland as part of the American cultural landscape and media diet.

Set on a Navajo reservation, the film revolves around Sick Boy (Jeremiah Bitsui), a rapscallion who can't keep out of trouble; Felixia (Carmen Moore), a transsexual sex worker who aspires to become a model; and Nizhoni (MorningStar Angeline), an adoptee in search of her biological family.

Unfortunately, each main character serves as an avatar emblematic of a societal symptom instead of a real person in whose shoes we can stand. As a result, their trajectories are didactic and predictable.

Freeland does reveal their omnipresent struggle to preserve identity, tradition and pride within a culture and a value system marginalized by the rest of the country. Perhaps she could further explore the supernatural and mythical themes to home in on a singularly Native American vision.

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"Drunktown's Finest"

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood.

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