Sundance Film Review: Drunktown’s Finest

Posted January 22, 2014 in
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Photo courtesy of: Peter Holland

Drunktown’s Finest
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Sydney Freeland

In Gallup, New Mexico, aka Drunktown USA, three Navajo protagonists battle alcoholism, peer rejection and the whitewashing of their Native roots. Sickboy (Jeremiah Bitsui, Victor from Breaking Bad) keeps falling into old patterns of alcohol abuse, which threatens to ruin his future as a father and a soldier in the Army. Felixxia (Carmen Moore, an actual Navajo transgender woman), whose family and Navajo teachings accept her identification transgender or “third gender,” still can’t find her place in her society. Nizhoni (Morningstar Angeline), raised by white, Christian parents, is cut off from her Native roots and searches for her own identity before going off to college in the East. Although Drunktown’s Finest has moments of believability—Bitsui’s Sickboy and his punk-ass friends, the party scene, Ernest Tsosie III and James Junes as the road kill cleanup crew—most of the acting falls flat, and the direction feels clunky and forced. This is a film with heart and it tells a sympathetic story, but it lacks the quality that separates an engrossing film from a valiant attempt. –Cody Kirkland

Screening Times: 
Wednesday, Jan. 22 — 6:00 p.m. • Sundance Resort Screening Room, Sundance Resort
Friday, Jan. 24 — 5:30 p.m. • Prospector Square Theatre, Park City