I can’t believe it took me over five years to finally see this incredible movie. “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” is one of the greatest films ever in the depiction of at risk inner city youth. Masterfully directed by the always great George Tillman, “Mister and Pete,” keeps the audience glued to the movie praying that the movie’s two protagonists do not become another fatal statistic due to their dire situation. As I will go into a comprehensive detail of the movie, I urge those who have yet to see this masterpiece to watch it before continuing to read my review.
When “Mister and Pete” was first released in theaters October, 2013, I wanted to go see it, but it only lasted three weeks in the theaters. Then, it appeared on Netflix for a few years. Unluckily for me, when I finally began subscribing to Netflix, the movie was pulled from the streaming service the day after. It was not until last weekend that I finally saw the movie on HBO. Wow, I can’t believe I allowed this cinema classic to go unseen by me all these years.
“Mister and Pete” is the story of two young boys, ages 13 and nine, who bond through an intense summer of abandonment. Mister, the older, 13 year old Black adolescent played effortlessly by Skylan Brooks, has endured years of poverty and embarrassment due to his mother’s heroin addiction, brilliantly played by the always capable former Oscar winner, Jennifer Hudson. Mister has been hardened by his mother’s behavior and results in him becoming very stubborn in seeking outside help for his strenuous situation. Pete is a nine year old Korean boy who also has suffered due to his mother’s addiction. Pete’s mother has physically abused him with an iron. Both mothers work as prostitutes to support their addictions. After Mister’s mother is arrested for drug possession and Pete’s mother disappears, the boys are forced to fend for themselves with no money or relatives that can help them. This is where the survival instincts of Mister take fold.
Mister does his best to care for his younger friend while avoiding bullies, the police, child welfare authorities and a Brooklyn housing project that is unsafe for children with parents, never mind ones left on their own. Brooks and Dizon’s facial expressions and eyes show both their desperation and despair. Yet, the bond these two create during their two months alone together in this struggle is the ultimate positive out of this immense negative.
Director Tillman has directed three incredible movies: “Soul Food,” “The Hate You Give,” and “Mister and Pete.” Each movie focuses on social issues that have burden Blacks throughout the years. “Mister and Pete,” brilliantly illustrates how drug addiction continues to destroy inner city families predominantly consisting of black and brown families. The crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s destroyed several black and brown families that still affects these communities today. Whether it’s 1985, 1995, 2005 or today, drug addiction of parental figures has continually contributed to the destruction of black and brown families.
“Mister and Pete” though heart wrenching to watch, is an authentic look at the damage that children could suffer due to their parents drug abuse. “Mister and Pete” although bleak and full of heartbreak, shows the strength of two young boys who would literally die to save each other’s lives. The movie ends with both boys gaining a brother for life and their lives at a better place than when the movie began. Brooks and Dizon continue to excel in movies today at their respective ages of 20 and 16. I have a feeling both these talented young men still have their best work ahead of them.