Tribeca 2018 Review: “O.G.” (2018) ★★★★★


What does the prison do to the prisoners? Does it aim to correct them? Does it try to help these people to become better human beings? Is anyone really interested in correcting their behavior so that they abandon their previous lifestyle and are able to move on? Life has proven that none of the above-raised questions have been or will be pursued. The European approach toward the concept of prison is way different from the North American or the rest of the world. Unfortunately, “O.G.” written by Stephen Belber and directed by Madeleine Sackler comes to prove that once again.

Louis (Jeffrey Wright) has spent twenty-four years of his life in prison charged with robbery and murder. Now, he is five weeks away from being released. He will have to re-evaluate his whole life an especially the last few weeks. He should also be carefully from now on regarding every step he makes not to jeopardize his parole. Sounds like an easy plan to execute but in reality, it is not. Soon he befriends with a young man and immediately knows that what may happen afterward is not in his power. He still thinks it’s worth to take the risk. Whether it’s a right decision or not, the time will show.

Danvers (William Fichtner) believes that something may happen in the prison in the near future. He thinks that Louis is his only shot to get to the bottom of this case. Danvers even has to threaten Louis with another forty years of imprisonment if the latter refuses to cooperate. Louis is clear in his point: he has never been a snitch and will never be. But the moment of confrontation between Louis and the victim’s sister reshapes his fate and belief. Now, Louis has to revisit every plan he has made to do the things the right way. But the problem is that what is right for Louis may be illegal in the face of the law. Again, he chooses to do what he stands for and be the person he has promised to be.

Jeffrey Wright as Louis is absolutely outstanding. Certain scenes with him are exceptional, powerful and speak volumes. Through his subtle performance we see what the prison does to people, what the crimes do to people, and what can the right mindset do to the person. Shot in a real prison with real prisons who deliver quite an impressive performance, “O.G.” is the right film to be seen for anyone who wants to study the psychology of prison and its goals. This is a slow-burning drama that builds up its pace throughout the film, taking the viewer to a place where hopefully none of us will ever be.

In conclusion, “O.G.” is a rare cinematic gift we don’t receive so often. It makes an impressive move toward the dangerous zone where each viewer might have their own expectation. Luckily, this film delivers it all due to its well-written script, the beautiful performance and directing. In the end, yes, the prison is not a place for anyone to be. Its workers are there to ensure no one will escape the premises. But whether it delivers a lesson or not – I don’t know. It all depends on the human factor and the circumstances whether it will leave a positive impact. Whatever it is, “O.G.” has plenty things to tell you. So, my advice is not to miss it!

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