×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Soul Survivor

While a seemingly familiar tale of urban, ethnic plight, "Soul Survivor" gets added mileage from its unique setting in the Afro-Caribbean sector of Toronto. A relatively straightforward drama, film's interwoven tales are elevated by assured direction and performances that convey authenticity. A decidedly upscale effort, it should travel well on the arthouse circuit domestically and in foreign climes.

With:
Tyrone Taylor - Peter Williams
Reuben - David Smith
Winston Price - George Harris
Busha - Clark Johnson
Annie - Judith Scott
Papa - Arden Bess
G'ma T - Leonie Forbes
Cherry - Denise Jones

While a seemingly familiar tale of urban, ethnic plight, “Soul Survivor” gets added mileage from its unique setting in the Afro-Caribbean sector of Toronto. A relatively straightforward drama, film’s interwoven tales are elevated by assured direction and performances that convey authenticity. A decidedly upscale effort, it should travel well on the arthouse circuit domestically and in foreign climes.

Plot finds twentysomething Tyrone Taylor (Peter Williams) working in a salon but looking for a fast exit and quick cash. The Jamaican-Canadian sees an opportunity to make some money on the side by doing collections for a local club owner. He turns a blind eye to what’s about to bubble over and stuffs the dough in his pocket for some future business plan.

Tyrone believes he can distance himself from the violence and illegality of his association with gangster Winston Price (George Harris). It’s an act of complete naivete, but he is resolute in his blindness.

Writer and director Stephen Williams dives into the material with an abandon that has a considerable, if surprising, amount of charm considering its dark tones. The key to this sleight of hand is the appealing nature of Tyrone. His family and girlfriend (Judith Scott) warn him about the dangerous path he’s taken, and he assures everyone that he won’t fall down one of life’s manholes.

Even when he makes the most obvious misstep of guaranteeing thedebt of an unreliable cousin (David Smith), he remains sympathetic.

Character, humor and the music and traditional values of the transplanted Jamaican community are subtly blended into the fabric of “Soul Survivor.” It’s an unfussy, commanding debut for filmmaker Williams, who developed this first feature project at Canada’s professional film school. Even though the arc of its tragedy is obvious, the storytelling is unconventional and arresting.

Serving as the director’s screen alter ego is his real-life brother Peter, a natural screen presence. He anchors the film’s narrative, abetted by a colorful cast highlighted by Smith, Scott and family members played by Arden Bess and Leonie Forbes.

Handsomely crafted with a minimum of artifice, this quiet, potent effort touches a universal chord. A pleasant surprise from the Canadian film scene, it should benefit commercially from its original vision.

Soul Survivor

Canadian

Production: A Norstar release (Canada) of a Miracle Pictures production of a Small Axe Film. Produced by Paul Brown. Directed, written by Stephen Williams.

Crew: Camera (Film House color), David Franco; editor, Jeff Warren; music, John McCarthy; production design, Sandra Kybartas; art direction, Raymond Lorenz; costume design, Kathy Vieira; sound, Ao Loo; associate producer, Victoria Hirst; assistant director, John Bradshaw; casting, Susan Forrest. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (noncompeting), Jan. 24, 1995. Running time: 89 min.

With: Tyrone Taylor - Peter Williams
Reuben - David Smith
Winston Price - George Harris
Busha - Clark Johnson
Annie - Judith Scott
Papa - Arden Bess
G'ma T - Leonie Forbes
Cherry - Denise Jones

More Film

  • 'All These Small Moments' Review

    Film Review: 'All These Small Moments'

    The magic of writer-director Melissa B. Miller Costanzo’s “All These Small Moments” can be found within the intimacy of the scenarios, the authenticity of her earnest characterizations, and the accessibility of the actors’ honest performances. In her deftly polished directorial debut, Costanzo dovetails the primary story about a teen’s coming of age with a secondary [...]

  • Bruce Tufeld Dead: Hollywood Agent and

    Hollywood Agent and Manager Bruce Tufeld Dies at 66

    Bruce Tufeld, a Hollywood agent and manager who once repped stars like Rob Lowe, Laura Dern, and Kelsey Grammer, died Tuesday in Los Angeles as a result of complications from liver cancer. He was 66. The son of respected television announcer Richard “Dick” Tufeld and Adrienne Tufeld, Bruce began his career as an assistant at ICM [...]

  • Bruce Dern

    Film News Roundup: Bruce Dern's 'The Lears' Bought by Vertical for February Release

    In today’s film news roundup, Bruce Dern’s “The Lears” and “Angels Are Made of Light” are acquired, Cold War drama “Stanley Cage” is launched and a documentary about Madonna’s early music career gets a release. ACQUISITIONS Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights from NeoClassics Films to “The Lears,” starring Bruce Dern in a modern-day [...]

  • Octavia Spencer Bryce Dallas Howard

    Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard to Reunite for Comedy 'Fairy Tale Ending'

    Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard will reunite for the ensemble comedy “Fairy Tale Ending.” Jim Hecht (“Ice Age: The Meltdown) and Tracy McMillan (“Marvel’s Runaways”) are writing the screenplay. Howard will also produce the Universal movie through her Nine Muses Entertainment alongside Eric Carlson and Susan Carlson. Seth MacFarlane and Erica Huggins will produce [...]

  • Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at DuArt

    Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at New York's DuArt Film Labs, Dies at 88

    Robert Smith, a longtime executive with New York’s DuArt Film Labs, died Jan. 11 in Montvale, N.J. He was 88. Smith spent some 62 years with DuArt, the film processing and post-production facility founded in 1922 in the penthouse of an automobile garage in Midtown. Smith rose to president of DuArt before retiring in 2015. [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content