Hold Me Down is a 30-minute drama following 19-year old Chastity (Tianna Allen), a single mom working as a stripper to pay the bills. She lives with her put-upon mom (Cheryl Juniaus) and discovers that she is to be one of the principal dancers during her ex’s bachelor party.
Swedish writer-director Niclas Gillis’s latest slice of life short has its heart in the right place. While studying in NYC, Gillis friended New Yorkers and couldn’t fathom the hardships some of these young mothers faced. That shock never left him and formed the basis for this movie. The audience can feel the heart and soul behind the camera in every frame.
Cast with natives from the Bronx, the world-weary frustrations at hand are believable. Tianna Allen despite being in every frame has the least lines of any speaking role. Her instincts, body language, and facial expressions tell the viewer everything they need to know. Aiding her is a talented group of women who make the harshness of life relatable, and you want to see them make it out and succeed.
“…she is to be one of the principal dancers during her ex’s bachelor party.”
There is one tiny issue, which is, oddly enough, the runtime. While making it a full-length feature would have probably padded things out too much, another 10 to 15 minutes would have been perfect. Chastity and her mom share only one scene together during which the mother berates and yells at Chastity the entire time. This isn’t bullying or harassing, so much as it is that the mom is at the end of her rope with Chastity. The yelling is specifically about how Chastity’s kid needs a diaper change and that the mom is always doing that. One of the earliest scenes in the movie though is Chastity changing the child and forced to use a plastic bag as she can’t afford diapers. So the mom’s complaint does not make sense given the context and an early sequence of something similar happening would have solved this.
The excellent directing, impressive acting, and noble intentions make Hold Me Down worth watching. While there is a confusing moment which could have been easily remedied, don’t let that stop you from experiencing the intense rawness and beauty this short displays.
Hold Me Down (2018) Directed by Niclas Gillis. Written by Niclas Gillis. Starring Tianna Allen, Cheryl Juniaus, Prince Richard Combs, Tanisha Lambright, Serenity Harris.