DANCES WITH FILMS 2022 REVIEW! There are plenty of coming-of-age dramas focused on empowering teenagers, telling them how to overcome all the problems and achieve the impossible through sheer will and perseverance. What if we don’t know what we want? What if one’s definition of happiness is not all about chasing big dreams? With Carlos Through the Tall Grass, writer-director Rick Dominguez tries to answer these questions.
Carlos (Miguel Angel Garcia) is a hardworking student and the most brilliant person in his small circle of people. He helps everyone and is loved by them, yet Carlos is reluctant to go to college. It could be because the college he is admitted to is not as famous as everyone expected or because his family and friends benefit from his intelligence and kindness while he is around. Or maybe it’s because Carlos has mathematically proven that he will not end up happy. The young man’s doubt about going to college reaches the point that he can’t keep them inside anymore, so he starts sharing his concerns. But unfortunately, not everyone is as supportive as Carlos expects them to be.
Carlos Through the Tall Grass is not a unique film, but it is real, as real as the neighbor living next door or the boy who works in the local grocery store. Although the dialogues sometimes feel corny, this is an experience that touches the heart of the audience. It is about not being afraid of failure or postponing the chances of today to tomorrow. Almost every person’s interaction with Carlos has a real impact on his decisions.
“…a hardworking student…yet Carlos is reluctant to go to college.”
That is why it is easy to connect with the characters. Every one of them has either regrets or burdens on his or her shoulder, and this is the whole point of the story: no matter what you do, your life will not end up perfect. By the end, no real and tangible change has happened in his life, but Carlos has learned a great lesson that can help him fully live and end up with fewer regrets down the way.
The team behind this dramatic coming-of-age tale is brilliant. Dominguez’s story comes from the heart, and maybe that’s why it is so emotionally engaging. The cast also gets the job done pretty well. Some parts of the film and the idea behind them may feel too exaggerated, fake, or too much of a cliche, but most of the dramatic weight rests on Miguel Angel Garcia’s shoulder, and he gets the job done. His performance is really astonishing for a young actor. Carlos’ chemistry with his best friend Rhonda (Ammy Ontiveros) feels more genuine than most teenage friendships in blockbuster films, and it is all thanks to the two actors’ brilliant skills.
Carlos Through the Tall Grass is about normal people who spend their whole life in the local bakery or the garage on the corner. There are no heroes, tough moral conundrums, or life-or-death situations here. It is all about living your life as best as you can, which is something that many have forgotten how to do. The audience may not remember Carlos and his family the next day, but watching his exploits will definitely make them remember their dreams, hopes, and regrets.
Carlos Through the Tall Grass premiered at the 2022 Dances With Films.
"…an experience that touches the heart..."