Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Cauleen Smith

REVIEWED: 03-29-99

Pica is a young black woman living in Oakland, California who can see the value of everyone's life except her own. She shares a house with her mother despite the invasion of her rented bedroom by her mother's constant partyers. She has a nighttime wall-postering job that puts her in the line of perpetual street danger. The class she's taking in 35mm photography isn't going well because she defiantly shoots only Polaroid snapshots of young black men whom she views as an endangered species. Pica's life crosses paths with another young black woman who at first disguises herself as a man to escape an abusive boyfriend but soon finds herself empowered by her adopted male identity. As their friendship grows, the film begins implicitly questioning what it means for a woman to camouflage herself as a member of an "endangered species" in order to make any real progress in her own life. "Drylongso" is an old African-American term that means "ordinary" or "just the same old thing." Cauleen Smith has created a movie that is both enmeshed in the "same-old, same-old" of urban black culture while simultaneously unearthing unique dimensions and insights. Effective and engaging performances, penetrating subject matter, and a simple but thoughtful shooting style make Drylongso a movie that is truly extraordinary.

--Marjorie Baumgarten

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