Las Vegas is one of the most iconic cities in the world. For me, it represents everything that’s wrong with America. Whilst The Strip is full luxury hotels and tourists with money to gamble, we rarely see the flipside. What happens to those living in the city who fall through the cracks? Whilst the city has many slums where crime and drug abuse is prevalent, there are those who eke out an existence well below the poverty line. Rick and Cindy, Two of the protagonists of Nicholas Steiner’s documentary Above and Below, live in a flood channel is Sin City. Out of sight, out of mind.
Above and Below focusses on five different people who have either chosen or been forced to live on the edges of civilisation. Dave lives in a nowhere land somewhere in California whilst April trains at a rural base for a mission to Mars. The Godfather is the leader of a small community living in the sewers. Then there’s Rick and Cindy whose home gets washed away every time there’s heavy rain.
Nicholas Steiner lets them all tell their own stories. There’s no explanations or background other than what they choose to give. Whilst this could have been frustrating, it adds a touch of gravitas and mystery to the film. Coupled with the beautiful cinematography which often evokes the work of Terrance Mallick, Above and Below is a spellbinding documentary which raises profound unuttered questions about the nature of isolation, disenfranchisement and love.