Title: Down And Yonder
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Christopher Flippo
Cast: Chris Schulz, Geoff James, Emily Landham
Runtime: 128 minutes
What It Is: Centered around the burgeoning paths of two childhood friends, Christopher Flippo’s directorial debut focuses on small-town mentality, and they want to live beyond it. Filmed in the rural nooks of Georgia, we watch as Wally (Chris Schulz) and Sugar Baby (Geoff James) struggle to expand beyond southern comfort.
What We Think: The most beautiful aspect of most directorial debuts is the personal stories the directors tend to produce; a telling line of an artist in the making, making stories focused on characters Hollywood tends to ignore. Flippo does a great job of presenting Wally and Sugar Baby as standard day southern boys, mindsets firmly planted in the Georgia soil, without a desire to want beyond the foliage that decorates his celluloid. James plays Sugar Baby as one would expect a man who has spent his whole life in a dirt road town would be, though semi lacking an interesting personality. Schulz’s character fares less interesting but one cannot wonder if this was Flippo’s purpose, to present southern mentality to be the antithesis of its big-city counterparts. Drawing the landscape into the film as its own star serves to explain to the audience that the film won’t be heavy, it won’t serve to make you analyze societal questions; its simple purpose was simply to grant you access to two characters that would normally stay unseen, and unnoticed.
Our Grade: B-, Flippo claims main marquee rights with his luscious cinematography. The pointed screen clips frame Wally and Sugar Baby as more interesting characters than one would expect. And while the film is touted as an homage to growing up in the rural south, its true heart lies in the mentality and friendship between the two male characters, one content to live each day the same, the other seeking what he doesn’t even know he is missing. While the film may not resonate with a broad audience, it’s a fantastic first effort on Flippo’s part. I’d bet a pitcher of the best sweet tea that his future efforts will produce just as much heart.