If it wasn’t all so realistic, it would be absurd. Emergency takes a few strange turns in its journey to evoke thought and discussion about racial divides and realities, but successfully delivers thanks to a phenomenal cast.
When Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and Sean (RJ Cyler), two Black university students pumped for an epic night out, come home to find a white girl passed out on their floor, turmoil ensues as they weight the risks of calling the police or taking matters into their own hands. Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Director Carey Williams has crafted an evocative drama that holds a mirror up to society, forcing discussion of racial politics, biases, and societal dangers. Though aspects of the plot are exaggerated, they’re largely necessary for the in-your-face, anxiety-ridden deep dives Williams depicts from K.D. Dávila’s script. The character interactions are authentically portrayed, the considerations horribly believable as a reflection of race in the United States today.
It all is driven by Watkins and Cyler, two young actors who hit every note of their characters and expertly explore their emotional ranges form beginning to end. Their torment is palpable and torturous for the viewer, but then isn’t that the point? Emergency forces the audience to think, and perhaps confront their own biases, as they are in the passenger seat for a ride full of twists and turns. It does so in a very, very good film, one that never feels preachy or adversarial, but one that simply feels real. Add in the supporting cast that includes Sabrina Carpenter, Sebastian Chacon, and Maddie Nichols, as well as a cinematically efficient and proficiently tight film, and you have a Sundance standout.
Emergency will hit theaters in May before heading to Amazon Prime Video.
Photo from Sundance