Movie Review: Fiction and nonfiction blend ineffectively in the gang drama Five Star

Ever since John Cassavetes started directing movies, indie films have wrestled with the tension between fiction and nonfiction. One means of finding a good balance, employed more and more frequently of late, involves casting non-professional actors as versions of themselves and then constructing a story around them. That way, the movie will feel bracingly authentic from moment to moment while still offering the satisfactions of drama. (Recent examples include Andrew Bujalski’s Beeswax and Josephine Decker’s Butter On The Latch.) It’s a tricky line to walk, though, and Five Star, the sophomore feature from director Keith Miller (Welcome To Pine Hill), winds up rocking a combination that amounts to the worst of both worlds. To the extent that the film has a narrative, it’s an overly familiar one—just your basic cautionary tale about gang life. But those street-smart clichés are still more compelling than the details …

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