The trope of people wanting a better life than the one they’ve been dealt is a pretty old one, but Rich Kids, by director Laura Somers, manages to at least tackle this issue when a refreshing, and somewhat tragic spin to it. The story of Rich Kids focuses on a Latino teenager named Matias (Gerardo M. Velasquez), who after years of seeing his father struggle to provide for his family, finally breaks when the landlord delivers an eviction letter to their home. From that point, he decides he’s going to make a better life for himself by any means possible.
Matias meets with his friend Steve (Justin Rodriguez) plotting to occupy a nearby house in a well-to-do area vacated by its owners. They invite Vanessa (Michelle Magallon), Isabel (Naome Antoinette), and Jasmin (Alessandra Manon) to the house to take advantage of the pool, and to obviously impress the young women. Everything is going fun and games until Steve’s drug dealing (and abusive) older brother Carlos (Ulysses Montoya) shows up uninvited and crashes their party. Things also take a turn for the worse when it becomes obvious to others nearby that the teens don’t belong in the home they’re squatting in.
“Matias meets with his friend…plotting to occupy a nearby house in a well-to-do area vacated by its owners.”
On the surface, Rich Kids comes off as a story that we’ve all seen before about disenfranchised urban kids who are looking for a way out of the ghetto. Whether it be drug dealing, theft, or otherwise. But what this movie does better than most films in this category is make the characters multidimensional and feel fleshed out.
Throughout the film you see Matias battling with himself and his fear of becoming his father for whom he has little (if any) respect. Or you see Steve, who can’t seem to escape the torment and constant disrespect of his brother Carlos. The character of Vanessa is the girl who is by all means college-bound and meant for “great things” (at least in her own mind), who constantly overcompensates her knowledge of everything for her fear of being “common.”
Along with the acting, the cinematography and editing deserve some special praise as well. The world of this movie feels fresh and real. Having grown up in neighborhoods like this, I can appreciate the authenticity.
“…any kid who was or is raised in the ‘hood’ can relate to seeing others have it better than them…”
The reason why this film works is that any kid who was or is raised in the “hood” can relate to seeing others have it better than them, especially financially. It speaks to every thought we have of wanting something better for our life than to end up staying where we are. Even if the risk is something we’ll regret later.
There are times within in the film where it has a very Breakfast Club feel to it. When the characters are exposing themselves, no matter what race you are or background you have, you will be able to relate to what they’re struggles are, and why having one perfect day, even if it’s just pretending, is so important to these people.
Would I recommend Rich Kids? Very much so. For those who consider themselves a supporter of independent film and diverse filmmaking, this is a movie that deserves the views and some praise.
Rich Kids (2018) Directed by Laura Somers. Written by David Saldana and Laura Somers. Starring Gerardo M Velasquez, Justin Rodriguez. Michelle Magallon, Alessandra Manon, Ulysses Montoya, and Naome Antoinette.
8 out of 10