Film Review: Topside

Mother and daughter

New York City has provided the setting for many films and its probably the most iconic place in America. Tourists flock to the Big Apple to experience all the familiar places for themselves and get their own slice of the pie. Making a beeline to Manhattan to breathe in the sights and sounds. Gentrification has taken hold of the city, so even straying off the beaten path doesn’t necessarily guarantee an ‘authentic experience’. Topside focuses on those who fall through the cracks.

 Underneath the streets of New York City is where Little’s (Zhaila Farmer) kingdom lies. While her mum Nikki (Celine Held) goes to work on the topside, she explores all the dark corners and secret niches; part of a community living down below. When the authorities threaten their way of life, the pair have to flee into the light. Desperately seeking a safe haven, Nikki struggles to keep her daughter safe while battling a debilitating addiction.

Topside is poetic and vibrant filmmaking. Logan George and Celine Held’s film contrasts the secure and safe underground world with the noise and constant dangers of a bustling major city. This is done through Little’s eyes. In the process, we’re challenged to reassess our own assumptions and prejudices. We’re afforded a glimpse into the lives of those who are failed by society. Topside works because it feels authentic while the camerawork only heightens the anxiety which seeps from the screen.

Topside opens in select US cinemas and On Demand on 25 March.

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