Evincing a mood and rooted sense of place more than a dynamic plot, writer-director Aaron Douglas Johnston’s My Sister’s Quinceañera digs into its creator’s familiarity with his hometown of Muscatine, Iowa, in telling a coming-of-age story of hazy ambition against the backdrop of a a young Latino girl’s 15th birthday. A North American premiere and Narrative Competition selection at the Los Angeles Film Festival comprised of a cast of non-professional actors, this lovingly constructed, work-shopped piece of cinema offers up a refracted glimpse of the fits and starts of rural dream-fires.
Dreams of busting out of two-star towns — and the familial and/or romantic friction such aspirations produce — are of course rich cinematic terrain, but My Sister’s Quinceañera largely eschews outwardly manifested conflict and instead focuses a lot of that energy inward. To this end, it helps that Johnston has an eye for detail that conveys multitudes around the story’s edges. That quality gives this poetic film much of its delicate charm. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (Double Life Productions, unrated, 72 minutes)