“The Hoodoo of Sweet Mama Rosa” is the story of a sleepy town in the Deep South, where old Poke Billet has been mowing yards as long as anyone can remember, and George Sinclair, the thirteen year-old boy who will stop at nothing to muscle in on his action. Filmed entirely in Durham, NC (w00t for Southern cinema!) and clocking in at 26 minutes, 37 seconds, I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure how this short left me feeling. I don’t mean because it’s a bad film or it wasn’t well done because it’s not…just the story itself, I don’t know how I feel. Maybe because I’m Southern and I just got it? It was weird, lol. But I’ll try to make sense from here on out…
Poke Billet is an older black man who’s been taking care of neighborhood yards for absolutely FOREVER. You know the type – walks around the neighborhood with his mower and you just stick your head out the door and give him a holler if you need his help and then maybe bring him a glass of lemonade later on. George Sinclair is a 13 year old arrogant, bratty, where-the-hell-are-his-parents, doesn’t-anyone-believe-in-discipline-anymore, and what-the-eff-happened-to-respecting-your-elders, SO not a real Southern white boy. And Sweet Mama Rosa? Well, she’s an older Catholic (or gypsy, take your pick *winks*) Hispanic woman, who finds herself in between the two males. I’m not pointing out races here because they really come into play (as in, this isn’t about racial tension) but the race of each character does make a difference (them being all white, this just wouldn’t have worked) and also, I just thought it was really cool. It’s a nice, *accurate* representation of the South and honestly, I’m just always happy to not see things whitewashed.
Anyway, so kudos to the characters. George…oh, George…oh, how I hated you…I kept wondering how horrible it was that I was hoping someone would kick him really hard in the shins. Like super hard. Oy. I get that 13 year olds don’t have a lot of options when it comes to jobs (trust me, I went through this with my kid) but to go so far as to CURSE someone to steal their job? C’mon, George. You’re never gonna get ahead in life that way. And then to go around stalking said person and yelling and screaming at and being a general asshole to every adult you see after that? In the SOUTH? How have you even made it this far at all?? Poke is the unassuming type of black character, the kind who’s been around long enough to have seen things so knows where and when he should speak but who’s also earned respect with his hard work. He doesn’t have time or belief in silly curses – he’s too busy taking care of lawns and praying to God. And Sweet Mama Rosa, while her part may be small, is a scene stealer whom I liked mostly because she took Georgie boy’s money. SO well-deserved.
The story very literally is Poke mowing and weed whacking while George follows him around and yells a lot. Honestly, I did get a little bored a little over halfway through but the cinematography was really pleasant so there was that. So it was one of those slow, meandering slice of life stories of which I’m a fan. I do wish there had maybe been a little less George and maybe a little more Sweet Mama Rosa.
I liked it. I didn’t love it but I liked it a lot. It’s nice to look at and the acting is wonderful (every once in awhile the boy playing George seems a little stilted – this *might* have been his first film though). It’s an honest account, truly representative. I guess it made me miss home but the concept of home, the memories of home, rather than the physical place. It’s an interesting little film, that’s for sure.
You can check the movie out on IMDB or head on over to the website to learn more!