[font=Century Gothic]"Ballast" is about the need for a father in a boy's life but this is very debatable and sometimes a present father can do more harm than an absent one. This is also a thoughtful movie and character study that could have been even better if it had done without the cliched gunplay of the first half. In situations like this, the threat of violence works best and allows a subtle tension to play out just beneath the surface. Anyway, the movie does eventually settle down, getting rid of the jump cutting in the bargain, dispensing information on the characters' lives in its own unique way and displaying rural Mississippi to its best advantage.[/font]
I really admired the mother Marlee played by Tarra Riggs. Her character was the most fascinating to me. What took me by surprise is how she becomes a leader. A REAL leader while slowly building a foundation. Lawrence (Michael J. Smith) is Marlee's sister-in-law and Marlee's son James (JimMyron Ross) who at first hangs out with troublemakers then realizes they are using him.
There is also a fourth character who goes by the name of John (Johnny McPhail). Not much is known except that he seems to be a good neighbour(John found Lawrence shot and called paramedics for help. When Lawrence is healed, John checks on Lawrence to make sure he's alright).
Overall "Ballast" is a paridigm picture that I didn't expect. This picture is an honest way of seeing real people doing things real people would do in the real world. Lance Hammer's picture also made me wonder and say "There is hope in life. There is real hope for those who are unfortunate".
The stars are very good in this movie and it never tries to force much of its agenda on you. It just tells the story, beautifully. It just could have been filmed with a little more depth of focus. A small complaint for a good overall movie.