Cole (Joey Martin), the college-age son of a factory owner, takes a job in dad’s factory over the summer, he meets Jermain (Moses Jones) and James (Sinclair Wheeler), two African-American dock workers. Jermain resents the rich white boy, and takes to teasing him, forming a contentious relationship with him.
James is more willing to give Cole a chance, and soon sparks a friendship with him. The duo bonds over a shared love and respect for graffiti art, which James practices at a “free wall,” walls where the local government and businesses allow graffiti artists to use their walls as canvases.
Filmed on location in Muncie and Indianapolis, “Free Wall” is another film funded by Ball State University’s film initiative, and is pragmatic and graceful in looking at race relations without the main characters really having many discussions about race.
Missing are heavy-handed discussions about how similar they are, or how despite their backgrounds they are able to overcome the stereotypes of “their” people.
We simply see two guys making friends, while one’s former friend becomes jealous.
The film’s conclusion is a little jarring and threatens to become hokey, but is still underplayed and handled well. Hints we see of a certain character throughout the film finally come to fruition.
It doesn’t tread much new ground thematically, but who says every film has to? When it comes to short films, “Free Wall” is as good as any.
Rating: 4 1/2 Yaps (out of 5)