'Grassland' Movie Review

Grassland movie 2024 movie review

Mia Maestro (THE TWILIGHT SAGA, Mayans M.C.) stars as a single mother running an illegal marijuana business in her home in GRASSLAND. While the plot isn’t particularly exciting, the independent film’s riveting characters and intense situations make for an interesting watch.

The setting is New Jersey circa 2008, Sofia (Maestro) is barely making ends meet with her son Leo when her life is complicated by a new neighbor (Jeff Kober), a veteran police officer with sole custody of his young grandson, Tom (Sean Convery).

John is inquisitive and eager to form a relationship with Sofia and Leo since he is a single parent, as well.

Leo and Tom Immediately bond as play friends. John seems like a doting father figure and nice older gentleman but that impression is shattered when Brandon (Quincy Isaiah), a family friend shows up as usual to watch Leo while Sofia tends to her illegal plants in the basement. John is immediately suspicious of the black man, so Brandon pretends to be lost out of fear when he sees John’s police car in the driveway. Brandon has a lot to lose with a criminal record for shoplifting, and he can’t get a job because of it.

Directed by William Bermudez and Sam Friedman, GRASSLAND was inspired by Friedman's mother who took to growing weed at home. The filmmakers describe the film as a “social justice thriller” highlighting the injustice towards Latinos and African-Americans when it comes to marijuana incarceration. The film is presented in a 4:3 frame, evoking the past.

Hence Sofia is not presented as your stereotypical drug dealer but a single mother doing what she can to provide for her son. However, you grow frustrated with the character when her choices lead to bigger problems for herself and others.

GRASSLAND is a fascinating and high-stakes story once the threat moves in. The film takes its time establishing Sofia, Leo, and Brandon’s family dynamic. Still, it’s Ravi Cabot-Conyers’ Leo who charms you with his endearing qualities that will hook you into his story and eventual fate.

You’re also invested in Isaiah’s Brandon who has much to lose in this story. Brandon refuses to be Sofia’s courier to stay out of trouble as his grandmother’s caretaker.

Maestro also turns in a riveting performance as Sofia. Her character hates her situation, but the actress makes you believe it’s Sofia’s only path with the pains of her decision emblazoned in her stressed face. The role is unlike any other character the actor has inhabited in her career.

Rachel Ticotin, best known as the tough Latina from TOTAL RECALL and CON AIR, has a cameo role as Sophia’s mother. It’s always nice to see this actor on screen.

GRASSLAND is a worthy watch and a conversation piece.

The film premiered at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival this past week, and the filmmakers are currently seeking a distributor. The film would be better served on a steaming platform so more eyeballs see this riveting film.

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Directors 
William Bermudez & Sam Friedman
 
Producers

David Goldblum & Adam Edery

Cast

Mía Maestro
Quincy Isaiah
Jeff Kober
Ravi Cabot-Conyers
Rachel Ticotin

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