Rhymes For Young Ghouls Reviews
Rhymes for Young Ghouls coverage
Within the confines of the Red Crow Indian Reservation in Canada, racist Indian agents are corrupted by power and cruelty. They are tied into the boarding school system and can impose the Queen's laws on any indigenous family that doesn't send their child to boarding school. Aila, a wise-beyond-her-years kid navigates the perilous path lain before her, striving to overcome the loss of her father to prison as he took the fall for the horrible accident which pushed her mother to suicide. Assuming the role of matriarch of her family, Aila must be drug kingpin, mother, sister, artist, and child all at once. With the help of her crew (earning her money for graft), she manages to stay out of the boarding school by paying a "truant tax" until circumstances push her to strike back against the system. Paired with the release of her father from prison, the building pressure of outside forces causes Aila to a breaking point that will change the Kingdom of the Crow forever.
The Art of Forgetfulness or the Institutional in the Kingdom of the Crow
Around the half-hour mark into Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Aila the young protagonist rolls blunts behind the post-apocalyptic visage of a cold-war era gas mask and states, "This is what brings my people together. The art of forgetfulness." Through the most tragic of events, Aila is left to fend for herself and simultaneously prop up what family she has left. Auteur Jeff Barnaby pulls triple duty on this film as writer/director/editor. His imprint on the subject matter shines through in brilliant flashes of gritty realism, spot-on dialogue, and an elegant braiding of the spiritual into the themes of vengeance and the institutional. My intention is to address this delicate interplay while focusing primarily on ways the film and the characters therein deal with the institutional.
On page 39 of Save the Cat! The last book on screenwriting you'll ever need, Blake Snyder states that the protagonist in the Institutionalized genre is, '...a virgin who is new to this group and who is being brought into it by someone who is more experienced.' In this instance, our hero has come to define her group and the Virgil to her Dante comes in the form of an unorthodox support system made up of fellow drug dealers, her shiftless uncle, and a surrogate grandmother. While these people offer advice and a modicum of experience for her to tap into, Ails relies on an inner compass and prompts from the restless spirits of her mother and little brother so as to appear to be the most self-assured character in the Kingdom of the Crow with the antagonist Popper coming in at a distant second.
By attacking St. D's boarding school in the climactic third act, Aila exhibits the ruthlessness and dedication to revenge of Edmond Dantès. Her clandestine raid is not only an attack on Popper but also a symbolic desecration of the institution both he and the school stand in for, the terror of colonialism. Her machinations spring from within the school itself as one of her most dedicated acolytes is a student there and has figured out the clockwork from within. By introducing shit into the waterworks of the building itself and having it sprayed all over Popper, we are given a grotesque moment of victory for those not fully embedded into the system but whose lives are nonetheless pulled into its omnipresent orbit. In terms of decolonization, this is one of the most ironic and bold examples in film I've witnessed.
It's with this style of engagement and stealth that Aila seems to win the day. Of all the characters pulled into the twin orbits of Aila and the school, Joseph retains a unique power both within the confines of the story and from without the cast of characters who come to rely on Aila. His self-sacrifice upon the altar of colonial law allows the scales to be balanced and Aila to ascend to the throne of power as new overseer of the Kingdom of the Crow. Instead of practicing the art of forgetfulness, it now feels as though the viewer has traveled a full revolution within Ceres' story and watched the wolf eat itself. Embedded within this act of autosarcophagy (eating of oneself) is recognition of eternal tumblers that lock into place every so often and supersede any man-made law or illusion of mastery.