Written and directed by Marcellus Cox, Mickey Hardaway is a feature length drama that stars Rashad Hunter, David Chattam, Stephen Cofield Jr. and others. The film chronicles the life of a young sketch artist when his life starts to blow up following years of abuse that he has suffered. As he seeks refuge in a psychiatrist, Mickey will find his odds take a turn for worse as his unfavourable odds lead him down a tumultuous path.
Abuse has always been a favourite subject of filmmakers to bring to life onscreen, but it is a bit tricky to get just right. However, writer-director Marcellus Cox has pulled off a difficult win in this regard and made a film that not only accurately contextualises abuse and those who suffer it but also celebrates the recovery of such individuals after they hit rock bottom. Writing a terrific screenplay that is both nuanced and inspiring, Cox weaves a story of pain, emotion and power as the protagonist Mickey goes up against his demons, both metaphorical and physical. With an ending that is sure to devastate anyone invested in the story, Cox has made a fatalist film; one that props up the idea of futility as much as it does the journey to go back into the light. This is a fascinating ideal and it proves that not every story needs to be rosy and joyful for it to be impactful.
In the acting department, Rashad Hunter as Mickey Hardaway is a force to be reckoned with. The way the kid can channel and project both pain and anger is spellbinding, and Hunter manages to steal every scene he is in. It’s as though Hunter understood the assignment right away and gave a performance that is so nuanced and measured that it elevates the entire film.
The rest of the cast is equally as good, and it is this combination of a powerful script and equally moving performances that make the film so good. In addition, Cox keeps the exposition to a minimum, allowing the audiences to fill the gaps as the story progresses. This not only gives the film an avant garde feel but also ensures the investment of the audience into the story. Equally impressive are the characters that Cox has brought to life. From the protagonist to the psychiatrist and from the police officer to Mickey’s muse, Cox has populated the story with figures that not only feel real but are also highly relatable.
Regarding the technical aspects, Cox and his crew keep the production tight and on track. The editing is slick and for a 90-minute film, the film whizzes by even though the story is a bit slow and melancholic. The narrative momentum mostly keeps on track although there are one or two instances where tighter editing could have affected the flow of the film more positively.
Regarding the cinematography, the visuals complement the story. Mickey’s numerous interactions with the psychiatrist are framed in a way that underline both his anxiety and his reluctance to come to terms with what has happened to him. Closeups of Mickey’s face show a broken man who is barely holding on to dear life in the absence of hope and positivity. Images like these are what give the film power and its story credence.
The most striking thing about the film is its black and white colour palette of the film and it fulfils several unique purposes here. One, it speaks to the trauma that Mickey has experienced and is trying to get rid off. Second, it illustrates the underlying negative effects of the abuse that Mickey has been at the receiving end of and how he is desperately trying to shake them off. In addition, the colour palette also gives the film a neo-noir touch that elevates the story that Rashad is trying to tell.
A masterclass in acting and emotion, Mickey Hardaway is deeply poignant and emotional. For all of us who have ever been subject to any sort of emotional abuse, the film speaks on a personal level and for the rest of us, it is a cautionary tale of how this trauma can manifest in shocking and painful ways. Featuring a fantastic turn from Rashad Hunter, Mickey Hardaway is a film that is both traumatic and cathartic in equal and fascinating ways. Marcellus Cox has made a powerful film, one that surprises, moves, and inspires in mysterious ways.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Marcellus Cox is a Writer/Director from Los Angeles, California. Marcellus has always had a passion for movies, filmmaking and storytelling. His filming style deals with dark/edgy themes pushing the limits as far as he can possible go with his storytelling touching on subjects such as Race, Religion, Social & Political issues. Marcellus Cox work has screened in over 200 International Film Festivals, Won over 150 International Film Awards and has screened Nationwide on CBS, FOX, ABC, SHORTS TV, Revolt TV, Crime & Investigation, Link TV & PBS.