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Review: ‘Lost in America’ boasts big names, but the real stars are its homeless teens

Crystal Sky in the documentary ‘Lost in America’
Crystal Sky in the documentary “Lost in America.”
(Indican Pictures)

“Lost in America” may feature big names with stars like executive producers Rosario Dawson and Jewel, as well as Tiffany Haddish, Halle Berry and Miley Cyrus, but this documentary remains a highly personal film for its director Rotimi Rainwater. He shares not only his own experience with homelessness, but also the lives of teens who struggle to survive on the streets. These stories are powerful enough to push past the documentary’s filmmaking missteps and still make an impact on its audience.

Rainwater examines an issue that was so little considered that no one really knew how many homeless kids and teens live in America. But the director doesn’t just think about the problem at a macro level; instead, he conducts intimate interviews with homeless youth, connecting with them on a personal level and humanizing an issue that people so often ignore. It digs deeply into youth homelessness, as well as its roots in the foster care system, LGBTQ discrimination and sex trafficking.

“Lost in America” suffers from some editing hiccups, as well as language that feels dated. The celebrity appearances might help attract additional attention to the film, but they’re rarely as moving as the interviews with those who currently don’t have a home. These moments are frank and raw, and they offer larger, poignant insights into the issue while never forgetting that these are real people.

‘Lost in America’
Not Rated

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: Starts Feb. 28, Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood
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