“Live And Die in East L.A” takes us on a gripping journey through the gritty streets of East Los Angeles, unravelling a story woven with choices, ambition, and the pursuit of dreams.
Filmmaker Attila Korosi is the writer and director of this masterfully crafted narrative that captivates the audience despite its rough edges along the way.
The story it tells is about an emergency room doctor (played by Attila Korosi) who finds himself drawn into the realm of gangs and street violence in the gritty underbelly of Los Angeles after treating an injured boy.
The film’s title reminds you of the 1985 film “To Live and Die in LA” which stars William Defoe. However, the two films share nothing in common except the similarities in the title.
Korosi’s film is a typical indie noir that delves succinctly into the lives of its characters, shedding light on the profound impact of the decisions they make. It’s not just another crime thriller; it’s a tale of consequences, intricately exploring the complexities of human actions.
Following a car accident, young Daniel (played by Daniel Hovey) receives medical care from ER doctor Attila Korosi. Subsequently, it is revealed that Daniel is the son of Mexican-American crime lord Carlos (played by Michael Flores), and the incident is unveiled as a deliberate act of vengeance orchestrated by a rival gang.
Attila is deeply distressed by his sister Anita Korosi‘s situation, as she confronts the possibility of a prison sentence due to her involvement in distributing unauthorized video games. To secure funds to assist his sister and resolve her predicament, Attila becomes compelled to engage with the gang and partake in their activities.
Korosi does his best to make his characters feel personal and related. It’s almost as though he plays himself in the film and even uses his real name. His character besides being an ER doctor has a passion for film, and the story reveals that he is closely working with his close friend Ishaan Bahri (also his real name) on a film project.
The overall acting in the film is what you would expect to see in a tight-budget indie crime thriller. It is generally decent, but there are more than a few scenes where it feels as though some of the actors are not fully committed to the characters they were tasked with and are just doing what they can to make it work.
Interestingly however the casting choices are noteworthy, with the inclusion of established actors like Richard Cabral, Robert LaSardo, and Cesar Garcia. The characters they are tasked with bring some authenticity to the story being told in the film.
The film does have the gritty, shadowy noir look and feel that complements its genre and story. But it still does feel a bit sloppy and financially deficient. The cinematographer however manages to be creative with some handheld shots and camera movements to give the film a much-needed upbeat and fast pace worthy of a crime thriller.
The film’s setting in the streets of East Los Angeles adds a palpable authenticity to the narrative. Korosi’s decision to shoot in this challenging environment is a testament to his commitment to realism. The portrayal of this backdrop feels genuine and enhances the immersive experience.
The are some parts of the film that leave you more than a bit confused. A sequence plays out and then there is reset and then an alternative series of events that sort of reflects the character making another choice than what they did before. It takes a while for the viewer to understand what happened and how that plays into the screenplay.
The crafty narration style which fuses a poetry-styled voiceover and an animation seems to ease you in as you try to figure out the film’s plot points and theme that bothers on life, the choices we make and how they affect us.
“Live And Die in East L.A” might not be a flawless masterpiece, but it’s a commendable debut for Korosi. It reminds us that storytelling is not just about perfection but about conveying genuine emotions and experiences.
I will score this film 6/10. It tells a story that doesn’t appear to be all that fresh in its way. But most importantly it tells in a way that shows passion and creative determination.
If you get the chance to see this film, with some patience, you might get to appreciate its exploration of choices, consequences, and ambition that you are likely to resonate with.