All my friends know the lowrider
Earlier this year I spent a night up in Los Angeles over the weekend where I got to sample the Chicano scene of the City of Angels. During my trip I drove by an car show event that hosted hundreds of lowriders, each one brighter and more exuberant than the next. In my brief but lingering glimpse, I saw that the owners treated these lowriders not just as cars or an extension of themselves but as a matter of expressing their vision, their artistic ingenuity. In Lowriders, we see an in-depth look at the East L.A. car culture through the eyes of Danny Alvarez (Gabriel Chavarria), a young man with an affinity for graffiti art and tagging. Danny's desire for self-expression and his father Miguel's (Demian Bichir) passion for lowriders causes a clash of cultures between the two. Their relationship is further strained when Danny's older brother Ghost (Theo Rossi) is released from prison where in his attempt to reconnect with the two starts to test Danny's loyalty. Much like the cars they're based on, Lowriders is a slow but chill ride that is more focused on character development; to sum it up briefly, it's a terrific redemption drama that just happens to involve lowriders. Having said that, don't expect to see anything here that you would see from a Fast and Furious film; this movie's focal point is on a culture and to a lesser extent, a community that is criminally under-represented in Hollywood. Lowriders doesn't quite give it that level of acknowledgement it sorely deserves; the film is imperfect at times where it feels more like a soap opera in the backdrop of East L.A. car culture. However, Damien Bichir's strong performance as Danny's father ties the film well together with the rest of the cast turning in impressive turns as their characters. Although the story is told through Danny's narrative, I wish more time was dedicated to these other well-rounded characters. All in all, Lowriders finishes slow but strong with the bigger accomplishment being it gives a much more appreciation to an overlooked culture that deserves more exposition.