May 1, 2017 | Posted by in 2017, Movies

A young street artist in East Lost Angeles struggles to deal with the expectations placed on him by his father, a problematic brother as well as his own hopes and dreams in Ricardo de Montreuil’s Lowriders.

This film deals with a subculture that I know very little about and that’s what initially drew me to watch this film in the first place. Melissa Benoist played a part in that too but the idea of seeing a story play out amidst a backdrop I know almost nothing about has a certain appeal.

One thing the film does really well is that it’s accessible. Knowledge of the Lowrider subculture isn’t essential as the film assumes this and tells us everything we need to know through narration. Outside of that it’s a fairly standard coming of age tale with the usual trappings of difficult family situations as well as social an economic barriers. It’s very familiar in that respect which makes the backdrop almost irrelevant.

Danny (Gabriel Chavarria) is the focus of the film and he is immediately established as being talented yet directionless. He freely admits through narration that he has never been to Mexico, struggles to speak Spanish and regularly strays outside his “territory”. Right away the film subverts the clichés that it could so easily fall into and it’s all the better for it. Sadly there is very little done with this but the fact that there is an attempt to remove the character from the stereotypes he might be associated with is a good move.

LowridersThe most interesting thing about Danny is his overall reluctance to assert himself. He’s perfectly comfortable showcasing his artwork by defacing public locations but keeps it completely anonymous out of fear of what the reaction will be. He wants people to see it but is scared of knowing what they think. This is connected to his family situation where his father expects him to follow in his footsteps which makes him feel that his dreams aren’t important enough to pursue.

Gabriel Chavarria’s performance does a great job of bringing this across and making Danny likeable throughout. The aim of the film is to root for him to succeed and it’s easy to do thanks to the clear decency brought to him. His lack of self confidence comes through clearly as well..

Danny’s world view is challenged when he meets the artistically minded photographer Lorelai (Melissa Benoist). They begin a relationship and she fully supports him in his art to the point that she tries to get him noticed by the right people so that it will be more lucrative. It’s a sore spot because of the lack of self confidence which highlights the differences between their backgrounds and upbringings. Lorelai has led a more privileged life full of opportunities where Danny hasn’t really had that. He does point out that he isn’t poor but he is definitely being held back by forces beyond his control.

The relationship as presented is fine but no more than that. There is some chemistry between the two actors but Lorelai is thin and bland despite the personality that Benoist brings to the role. She also disappears from the film leaving her role completely unresolved. It was an interesting idea but not very well executed.

Danny’s relationship with his father is really important to the film. Miguel (Demian Bichir) is motivated by his desire to make ends meet which ends up dragging Danny down with him. An example of where this relationship could go is outlined by the presence his other son, Ghost (Theo Rossi); an ex con with a huge chip on his shoulder. As with everything in this film there was more that could have been done to develop these relationships but there’s a lot missing.

The relationship we see between Danny and Miguel is well handled though as it starts with them being almost estranged with so much being unsaid and develops to them gaining a mutual respect for one another. It is a very rushed development but it is easy enough to follow.

Despite the flaws the story progresses fairly well and the ending feels somewhat satisfying if a little too “happily ever after”. It does feel earned due to my investment in Danny as a character but there were a lot of gaps that the film needed to fill in to have this be a well rounded experience.


A solid film that wraps a fairly standard coming of age story in a subculture that I personally knew very little about. Danny is an interesting character and the various relationships in his life come across well enough even if they are a little underdeveloped. His relationship with Lorelai had so much more potential for depth than we saw. The same applies to his relationship with his father and brother. None of it was bad but all of it was lacking. Despite the flaws the story progresses fairly well and the ending almost works due to my investment in Danny as a character. As with everything it needed work and there were a lot of gaps for the film to fill in.

  • 7/10
    Lowriders - 7/10


Kneel Before…

  • a likeable protagonist
  • lots of potential in the core relationships
  • an interesting look at a subculture I knew little about
  • an accessible and well presented story

Rise Against…

  • underdeveloped relationships
  • an important character vanishing for a long period of time
  • the overall sense that a lot of the film is unfinished
User Review
10/10 (1 vote)