FIRECRACKERS: 3 STARS. “brimming with visceral energy.”
If “Firecrackers” was made decades ago it likely would have opened with the pulsating rhythm of The Animals’s anthem to teenage boredom “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” Instead the edgy first film from Jasmin Mozaffari sets the scene with an opening blast of words from teenagers Lou (Michaela Kurimsy) and Chantal (Karena Evans) that would make your grandmother blush. It’s not as melodic as Eric Burdon and Company but it sets the scene and the tone for what is to come.
Lou and Chantal live in a one stop light town, a place not big enough for their hopes and dreams. Crappy jobs have earned them enough cash to make a get-a-way to New York City but Chantal’s possessive ex has different plans for her. When Lou and Chantal look to get revenge on the man who threw a monkey wrench into their plans, bad decisions set them on a downward path that places more distance between them and their dreams.
“Firecrackers” breathes the same air as “American Honey” and “The Florida Project.” All are low budget female driven stories of poverty and aspiration that don’t spare the viewer. The result is a film that moves at breakneck speed, both physically and emotionally. Mozaffari plants these two women at a crossroads in their lives, giving the viewer just enough information to understand that Lou and Chantal aren’t necessarily the architects of their own futures. Stuck in a cycle of poverty and bad choices, they may not be off to happily ever after, whether they make it to New York or not.
“Firecrackers” is an exciting debut feature, brimming with visceral energy that never allows its characters to take the easy way out. It isn’t easy watching but it is a powerful look at gender and class divisions and how they come into play in Lou and Chantal’s escape plan.