The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

  • The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete highlights the inequities of United States society and the terrible ways poverty effects children.
  • The film also develops compelling characters. Mister (Skylan Brooks) is so resourceful and likable that we want him to avoid the police and stay free of social services, no matter our certainty that he cannot possibly survive on his own, at least not long-term.
  • Pete (Ethan Dizon) isn’t as skilled as his older friend, but he is equally well developed.
  • As impressively, the adults never feel villainous. Gloria (Jennifer Hudson) is a terrible mother, but she is also layered by regret, self-loathing and obvious, though poorly expressed, affection for her son. Kris (Anthony Mackie) is a gangster guilty of untold crimes, but he is infectiously calm and intelligent. Dip Stick (Julito McCullum) is uncaring, but so out of his element that we understand why. And so forth.
  • The actors are all very good. Skylan Brooks and Ethan Dizon are promising youngsters with ample skill. Anthony Mackie is scene-stealing terrific, as is Jeffrey Wright (Henry).
  • Moreover, director George Tillman Jr. has a knack for artistic filmmaking. Whenever we see police officers, camera angles, audio design and careful editing show us Mister’s perceptions: the police are villains, not adults trying to serve and protect.
  • Costumes, make-up and hairstyles take the focus off of the actors and place it firmly on the characters. With a mohawk and bushy, overgrown beard, Mackie is almost unrecognizable. Hudson is so heavily tattooed that she instantly disappears in her character. Wright’s face is covered by enough grime that we don’t see an established character actor; we see a homeless veteran the world has forgotten.
  • Costumes also tell us as much about Pete and Mister. For example, we first observe that Mister is losing control by looking at the deteriorating cleanliness of his shirt.
  • For all of that, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is not perfect. The last scene in which we see the Store Owner (Kenneth Maharaj) rings false. Very few adults would behave as he does, especially in public and in front of the community’s most notorious gangster.
  • Moreover, Tillman adheres too ardently to Mister’s point of view. When Kris confronts Dip Stick, we are taken out of the movie, if only because it is the first time we see something Mister doesn’t.
  • Gloria’s final scene has a similar effect. Because we see so little of her, we do not understand her decisions. Attempts at exposition do not adequately explain them, at least not to the extent showing her actions would have.
  • Let me be clear, though. This movie’s missteps are relatively minor, and its strengths are immersive. It is worth viewing.
  • Final Grade: B+

12 thoughts on “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

  1. Been on the verge of watching this a few times, but never end up doing so. The poster and premise looked interesting, and your costume description of how different the cast looks has caught my attention. I may need to watch a trailer as well, or be in the right mood for this kind of story.

    • The right mood is key, I think. When you’re ready for a heartfelt drama with quite a few moments of levity but that is still mostly heavy, then this is the one to watch.

  2. I’ve never heard of this film! Is this a new release? I’ll have to keep an eye out for it either way – good review 🙂

    • It had its US theatrical release in early October, I think. Its DVD realease, here anyway, was February. Google tells me it hasn’t had its DVD release in Australia yet. And IMDB only lists US festivals.

      It might not have hit the international markets yet. Hopefully it does at some point; it is a quality drama.

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