When I saw that the new movie "Step" was only 83 minutes long, starred young people and rated PG, I just assumed it was one of those feel-good movies about a youth step competition…boy was I wrong!
I was quite surprised and pleasantly so, that this wasn't a movie, rather moreso a documentary. Set in inner-city Baltimore shortly after the Freddie Gray tragedy in 2015, the focus is on a new all girls, inner city, Charter School and specifically some members of their school step team. We meet 3 of the young ladies and their family in an "in your grill" way. We were privy to home, school friends and step class conversations & relationships (positive and painful). So the general enjoyment/escapism of step practice masked their day-to-day realities of navigating life, socio-economic hurdles, stereotypes, relationships etc.
to achieve the “end game” of getting accepted into college.
What made this movie work from the girl going to Johns Hopkins on a full ride to a stunning but a bit wild young lady girl going to a HBCU (and the one student inbetween) is “how fragile” each of their lives are. The reality of any of completing the bachelors degree is so difficult. NOT because they don't have the academic chops, rather its due to their real deal daily hurdles).
In addition, the support of these girls by teachers, counselors, administrators, coaches is 2nd to none. We are talking “a lot of hand holding”. Problem arises at college when one is away from home, away from caregivers and away from academic support pieces. Not impossible but increasingly difficult with less tools in ones tool belt.
At the end of the film, we see the graduation and the Principal shares that the graduating class of say 40/50 kids all got accepted into college.
In someways, I'm happy the movie ends then on a hopeful note. I'm am anxious about what their life situation will be say in 4/5 years at the end of a traditional college cycle…will they reach the finish line???
The step scenes were properly downplayed and near forgettable...but you sure don't forget these 3 young ladies and their families. I just don't understand why this film was not presented in a more of an Arts Theater like Red Bank or Asbury Park that is where it belongs and why the attendance was horrible – shame...hope word of mouth picks this one up.