I can’t keep tabs on all Canadian films but in the last couple of years there have been some good ones like “Corona”, “Come True”, “Unmasked” and “Recon”. However, the producers and distributors of the 2016 Quebec film “Boost”, co-starred in by Jahmil French, will be available on YouTube for free until the end of this March (https://youtu.be/2xDTmPZmr18). Unfortunately, the 29-year-old Jahmil French died in his New York apartment on March 2 with the cause of death unknown. French was also in the iconic tweenie Canadian drama “Degrassi The Next Generation”.
The is the first I saw of French and he delivered a strong performance in “Boost”. French was nominated (but did not win) for best supporting actor for “Boost” in the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards.
French as a young actor possesses a great deal of charisma and on the big screen gives a compelling performance. Although we can be saddened by the recent death of Canadian actor Christopher Plummer you can say we had a long career to follow and enjoy. But with French with such a limited film career his death is more of a tragedy as we think “what could he have done”.
You might label “Boost” as “teens heading in a bad direction” a genre which has been around longer than me although my first taste of this genre might be with Natalie Wood, Dennis Hopper and James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955). So while many of us film buffs may recall this the film “Boost” may be an introduction to many of this genre and its message is well delivered.
“Boost” is a realistic thriller of Eritrean immigrant Hakeem (Nabil Rajo) and A-Mac (Jahmil French) as two “sort of” rebellious teens on the edge of criminality falling deeper into criminality and danger. This is also a “buddy” genre film as that is what Hakeem and A-Mac are living in their Montreal Parc Extension neighbourhood. Constantly they are in hot water with their high school authorities. Rajo won best actor for “Boost” in a film at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards.
Both work at a car wash owned by Ram (Natare Guma Mbaho Mwine). Their side job as car wash attendants is to identify cars to be stolen by an auto theft ring lead by Ram. However seeing a big opportunity for a hotly demanded Cadillac CTS they decide to boost it without telling RAM but Ram finds out what they have done and keeps it cool. Hakeem and A-Mac walk away with a big bundle of cash.
Showing their immaturity Hakeem and A-Mac take a stolen car on a bit of a joy ride with a couple of young ladies consuming vast quantities of weed and beer. Hakeem gets out of the stolen vehicle with his cash attracted girl and A-Mac drives off with his girl and crashes killing one and inuring another. A very bad mistake when driving a stolen vehicle that might open up a can of worms for the auto theft ring. Ram portrays a very wise and calm man of African descent who is totally proud of his ethnicity but he never trusted the more flamboyant and daring A-Mac. Behind the veneer is a ruthless criminal.
A-Mac is a teen on the run while Hakeem professes his total innocence to Ram.
Watch the film and its conclusion but it is fair to say Hakeem and A-Mac lose their teenage veneer quickly and perhaps unpleasantly.
Well acted by all with French and Rajo delivering compelling performances. Mwine could be seen as a vicious criminal but full of pride, dignity and gentleness and delivers a stellar if not riveting performance.
You can catch the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWGn6Ta0IUs .
“Boost” was written and directed by Darren Curtis and produced by Academy Award winner Bunbury films in co-production with Havelock Films and in association with Telefilm Canada. It is distributed by Filmoption International.