Director: William Dickerson
Cast: Michaela Cavazos, Conor Proft, Harry Hamlin
Release Date: April 2, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
There was The Lost Generation, there was The Beat Generation, and in the ‘90s The Suicide Generation. Thomas Harrison (Conor Proft) is determined to start his own grunge band, an obsession that blinds him to what’s either the mental collapse, or eruption of musical genius, of his younger sister, Bridget (Michaela Cavazos). Bridget boldly rejects her brother’s music, and the music of an entire generation of slackers, by taking on the persona of a gangsta’ rapper named “Bri Da B.”
‘No Alternative’ accompanies the teenage children of a seemingly average and normal American family in the early 1990’s. While Thomas (Conor Proft) is thoroughly obsessed with the grunge rock scene and intent to make his band into the next big thing, his younger sister Bridget (Michaela Cavazos) passionately hates it and begins pursuing a career in her favorite musical genre of rap. Creating a black, male persona dubbed “Bri Da B.” and making her hip hop debut performing at a local open mic night. Before long, both brother and sister slowly begin to find themselves spiraling as the possibility of fame looms for each while the personal relationships and choices they find themselves forced to make as a result prompt a whole new set of struggles, teetering relationships and pain.
Directed by William Dickerson (Don’t Look Back) from a screenplay he additionally co-wrote along with regular collaborator Dwight Moody (Detour) which was based upon Dickerson’s own novel, Dickerson does a great job at the helm of ‘No Alternative’ guiding this powerful and likely quite personal tale along with the utmost of care. His capable work at the helm is only further boosted by a highly capable cast which features some lesser known individuals along with a few familiar faces and includes Michaela Cavazos, Conor Proft, Chloë Levine, Kathryn Erbe and Harry Hamlin along with a number more.
‘No Alternative’ is a beautiful, passionately crafted and powerful coming of age tale set in the 1990’s amid the grunge rock and gangsta’ rap music scenes that perfectly captures the world and its surroundings, as well as touching on the struggles of making it in the music business, not to mention all of the other difficulties that come along with your teenage years. Enthralling and also oddly hilarious at times, while somewhat emotionally draining in its own right due to its powerful ability to tackle so many life issues without hesitation and never shying away from the painful results that can accompany so many of these elements. Touching on everything from friends, love, drugs, music, and especially family and often doing so in the most realistic manner possible. It manages to grab hold of your attention and take you along with these two drastically different teens as we embark on their musical and life-building journeys into happiness and suffering alike and is likely stick with you for some time after it concludes. I would strongly encourage anyone that appreciates a moving and well-crafted coming of age story, along with those who grew up in the 90’s and of course fans of indie cinema to try and give this one a whirl if you’re able, there’s a pretty great chance you’ll be quite pleased that you decided to do so.
Overall, ‘No Alternative’ is a heartfelt, emotional and at times oddly hilarious exploration of suburban teenage life during the 90’s and the pursuit of dreams; as well as everything that can accompany it. It’s passionately directed by William Dickerson who additionally co-wrote the screenplay from his own novel and further boosted by a lesser known, yet more than capable cast. Altogether delivering an unforgettable tale of life as a music obsessed teen in the 90’s that you’re not likely to forget about shortly after. ‘No Alternative’ is highly recommended. It’s a powerful, heartfelt and moving tale that is well worth taking the time to check out if possible, especially for those that grew up in the era, as well as indie film fans who should both only appreciate and enjoy this impressive film all the more.
The Blu-ray release of ‘No Alternative’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic and provides a sharp, detailed and rich presentation from start to finish, yet still retaining some welcome grain and finer intentional imperfections for a video presentation that perfectly represents the films released around that decade. It holds up impressively even during the numerous darkly lit moments and never allows anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation complimented by a more than sufficient bitrate that looks consistently great throughout.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack isn’t overly aggressive, yet still delivers for the most part in the most critical eras. It doesn’t tend to truly utilize the surround elements to their fullest and never truly overtakes the viewer and immerses them within, yet nonetheless sounds clean, crisp and smooth every step of the way. Always making certain that any dialogue and activity occurring is fully clear and audible at all times, with background effects or music never overwhelming other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a pretty solid 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that may not be anything exceptional, yet shouldn’t really disappoint either.
The Blu-ray release of ‘No Alternative’ does not include any extras aside from the film’s ‘Trailer’ (running approximately 2 minutes in length).