Dances With Films 2016: ‘Creedmoria’ - Film Review

When I talked with writer/director Alicia Slimmer at the Dances With Films festival about her movie, Creedmoria, she told me it was uplifting. Given the plot synopsis, it was a little difficult for me to believe. From beginning to end, the story is full of tragic events and terrible people. Even while watching the movie, at times, I wondered how a film like this could be considered uplifting, when it puts its protagonist through such hell. Yet somehow, uplifting is exactly what Creedmoria manages to be. Because the focus isn’t on the tragic events or the terrible people. The focus is on rising above those things and realizing that that’s not all life has to offer.

Candy (Stef Dawson) is a teenage girl living in New York in the 1980s whose life is a series of bad situations. Her mother is controlling and overbearing. Her coworkers at the burger joint where she works treat her like crap, because they think she has an easier job than they do. Meanwhile, her boss also treats her like crap and tries to make her job as hard as possible. And then, there’s the crowning touch: her boyfriend Billy who’s pretty much every red flag in the book, rolled up into a leather jacket.

The good and supportive people in Candy’s life are few and far between. One is her father: a good, loving, hardworking man—who dies just a few minutes into the film. Then, there’s Sean, Candy’s outcast brother. Sean is her best friend, her confidante, and probably the best thing in her life.

What of Candy herself, though? What kind of person is she? There’s a moment, towards the middle of the film, where Sean refers to her as happy all the time. I don’t think that’s quite how I’d describe her, though. As tribulations continue to close in all around her, Candy isn’t just uniformly happy. She’s sad when her father dies. She’s angry and frustrated when her other brother, Danny, is continually caught wandering around the neighborhood drunk at all hours of the night. She’s terrified when another girl, jealous over Billy, threatens to do her serious bodily harm. She’s not just uniformly happy in those situations, because of course she’s not. If she was, her character wouldn’t really have any depth.

However, although Candy may not be constantly happy, what she is, she's positive. She’s resilient. No matter what life throws at her, she’s going to get through it and come out the other side better than before. I think that’s a much more noble, much more interesting character trait than simply being happy all the time.

This movie can be difficult to watch sometimes. There are a lot of thoroughly unlikeable characters, and a lot of really terrible things that happen to the characters we do like. Stef Dawson as Candy, though, is the glue that holds it all together. Her positive attitude is infectious, even through the negative circumstances, so that you can’t help but root for her.

In the end, this is a fun and worthwhile film. If you like uniquely uplifting coming of age stories, then it’s definitely worth your time to check out Creedmoria.

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