Movie Review: Meek Mill’s short film “Wins & Losses”

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Released over a series of days, Meek Mill’s short film for “Wins & Losses” is a bleak Trap tale.

The Story

“Chapter 1: Rebirth” starts in the middle of chaos: a woman giving birth, a teenager fighting his way into the delivery room and a bloodied ghost remorsefully, stoically watches the scene.

In the subsequent chapters we learn the identity of the ghost and his back story. He is another young Black man caught up in the Trap. Though he is urged by his mother, girlfriend and his own common sense to stop slanging, he sees no way out and continues living the life.

Knowing how “Wins & Losses” begins, there’s no surprise when the film wraps up without a happy ending. There was a chance to offer the audience some respite from the stark reality of the Trap, but Spike Jordan (the director) didn’t go that route. The little brother of the deceased drug dealer doesn’t learn from his mistakes. He ends up in the Trap his brother involuntarily exited.

The Film

Emotionally the film works. It’s a realistic depiction of a real life event that occurs far too often. It’s easy to connect with the characters and relate to their troubles.

That being said, there is nothing particularly new about the film. Watching the short, I thought of so-called “urban films” that were shot in the 90’s like “Boyz n the Hood” and “Menace II Society.” In that sense “Wins & Losses” doesn’t tread new ground. There is, however, the question of should it have to tread new ground. The sad truth is that, for many, conditions that existed in South Central Los Angeles in the early 90’s still exist today. To that end, the film’s premise is reasonable.

So what we have is an emotionally impactful film with a realistic premise. And yet, the film still falls short of the mark. It manages to make us feel but it does so through a shorthand sentimentality. Because the story is familiar, because it is (far to) commonplace, the audience can immediately connect with the characters on screen. It saves the film from doing any heavy lifting. Instead of a nuanced, complex exploration of Trap life, we get a condensed, easily-digestible morality tale. It works but it fails to leave a mark.

Wins & Losses

The film features Meek Mill in the role of the Greek Chorus, rapping in the background of several scenes. Over the course of four chapters Meek raps pieces of “1942 Flows”, “These Scars”, “The Price”, “We Ball” and finally “Young Black America.” The final track is a meaningful way to finish the movie. It sums up Meek’s view of Trap life, the desolation and the inability to escape it.

“Wins & Losses” was released in pieces on Tidal. It is now available in its entirety on YouTube.

To read a review of Meek Mill’s album of the same name click here.

 

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