In its broad strokes, it sounds like something you’ve seen before – a quartet of friends resort to slinging molly, hoping for a path out of their rotting neighborhood – but it’s a lived-in, breathed-in movie, filled with atmospheric details, unexpected characters, and a striking authenticity.
The title is shorthand for its setting of Cleveland, Ohio, seen here as a decaying urban rot. Out of its abandoned storefronts and shuttered manufacturing plants emerge four friends on skateboards, often in slow motion, the filmmaker shooting them with the majesty they imagine for themselves. Caple’s camera prowls through the city’s hip-hop/skater subculture, where the four friends ditch school to practice their tricks, hoping to land sponsorship for tournaments and, eventually, make their way out of these streets. But while they’re waiting for that ship to come in, they steal cars – and one fateful night, in a bag in a trunk, they find an unholy amount of MDMA. And they decide to make some money selling it, in spite of a junkie associate’s warning: “This is Momma’s shit.”