Good premise lacking in content

This is a documentary about a Liberian man named Rosevelt Henderson who has moved to Chicago to escape the political violence of his country (he lost part of a couple fingers to torture). He gets jobs, gets laid off jobs, works long hours, and tries to salvage an education in civil engineering, all in supporting his kids (and one grandkid) he has brought with him. He works to bring his wife along as well, who was unable to come before – and was pregnant at the time. Building this new life in America would seem to be a compelling subject for a doc, at least on the surface.

Sadly, the documentary doesn’t live up to its premise. I really would like to have felt something more about what was going on. This is no ordinary life, for sure, but as presented here it seems not a lot different in quality than many other lives. I think Henderson is probably a suitable enough subject for a documentary, but perhaps he wasn’t available enough to dig deeper into things. Everything we seem to learn about after the fact. There's little real tension to be found. Perhaps there were difficulties in getting the film made, but it comes across that all the safest choices were made, leaving nothing to challenge us.

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