Lost Soulz


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Lost Soulz
"It’s a story which invites trust and faith in humanity even as it acknowledges that life involves risks."

When Sol (Sauve Sidle) and Wesley (Siyanda Stillwell) and little Jessie (Giovahnna Gabriel) are late home, Wesley’s mum worries. They’re supposed to tell her where they will be and when. It’s a particular kind of worry which African Americans know well – less for the girl than for two boys who are reaching the age where people might not recognise how young they are, or might decide to ignore it, making them into targets. Sol isn’t her son but he’s been living in her home since his own family fell apart. He’s a sweet kid, very easy to like, and she’s made him her responsibility.

Sol doesn’t really understand this. He’s a at a stage in life where he perceives it as a series of events happening to him rather than choices for which he is fully responsible. He, Wesley and Jessie love rap, and he’s got quite a talent, leading to him being invited to perform at parties. When, following one such event, he is spontaneously invited by a group of semi-established rappers to join them on a road trip to California, he grabs a bag full of clothes and leaps into their van with barely a second thought, assuring Jessie that he’ll be back sometime but not considering how it might affect everyone else.

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Following Sol, we are similarly cut off, for the meantime, from the consequences of his actions. Everything is about the here and now, with the future a bright blur of possibility. Katherine Propper’s film has attracted comparisons with American Honey and takes similar form as a cross-country odyssey heavily focused on the experiential, brought to life by Donald Monroe’s colourful and airy cinematography. Sometimes it narrows into phone format as we take on the perspective of one of its characters recording a musical performance or exciting event.

Such excitement is everywhere, and engagingly child-like. Making their way out of Texas, the group stops in a random field to pet cows and horses. hand-feeding them hay whilst an elderly farmer tells them about his life. Later they visit a zoo, riding on a fenced-in flatbed truck though fields filled with friendly zebras and camels and buffalo, though the fierce ostriches are a little too much for some of them. In between other adventures there are numerous spontaneous stops to make music videos. The music was mostly created by cast and crew, and fills the film, contributing to its impressionistic representation of character.

Sidle is most famous as a rapper and model, but has actually acted for Propper before, appearing in her 2019 short Street Flame, and the two have an easy chemistry which shows on the screen. Lost Soulz has the warmth and heart of the Texas filmmaking tradition which inspired her, and although Sol encounters troubles along the way, and ultimately has to reckon with his own growing sense of obligation towards others, there’s something powerful in the way that Propper shows him receiving support from strangers at every turn.

It’s a story which invites trust and faith in humanity even as it acknowledges that life involves risks. This fits in perfectly with her ability to find beauty in almost any landscape, and a sense of wonder at a wide world glimpsed for the first time. Throughout his travels, and at home, Sol keeps catching sight of freight trains rattling by, reminding him of the connectedness of things and the fact that there’s always somewhere else to go.

Propper has had short films selected for Tribeca before, and Lost Soulz won her the Audience Award. It’s easy to see why.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2023
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Lost Soulz packshot
A young rapper leaves behind his surrogate family and sets out on an expedition across Texas, contemplating new and old friendships.

Director: Katherine Propper

Writer: Katherine Propper

Starring: Sauve Sidle, Syanda Stillwell, Micro TDH, Krystall Poppin, Alexander Brackney, Malachi Mabson

Year: 2023

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: US

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