First impressions are not always the best. As I sat and watched Root Letter, directed by Sonja O’Hara and released by my friends over at Entertainment Squad, I let myself be open to all the stereotypes, all the reactions, all the conclusions I could jump to. I watched this story of two friends, forged through such an archaic medium, at least anymore, and wondered where this adventure would lead.
Root Letter is a story of two kids, both Seniors in high school, with different enough but similar enough lives to understand each other when no one else really could. Standing outside their own circumstances while trying not to be drowned by the mundane, the crippling pain of life, and the mistakes made by family, friends, and themselves.
Carlos and Sarah begin to write letters to each other through a pen-pal program in their respective high schools. These letters come at a time of turmoil in both their lives and add a level of comfort they could never get from their own separate circumstances. These are the relationships that never fade completely away.
“Sometimes being with people is more lonely than being alone.” That line, of all others in this film, really hit me. Sarah talks about being with her friends, but how she does not fit in and how life happens around her. I am sure that many of you have felt that same way. Looking around at people making the same mistakes over and over, generation to generation.
A short, out of character letter arrives for Carlos, one year later, and this message is scary. Sarah says, “I killed him.” Carlos immediately uproots his life and heads out to Baton Rouge to find Sarah and help, if he can.
The rest of the film is an interesting piecing together of Sarah’s past and recent events that led up to the letter. The voice over of the letters being read by each writer paints a picture that is sometimes meant to misdirect but always leads forward. The mistakes made pile up and the consequences could be dire.
I won’t spoil this movie for you, but I will say that it is really a deep view into life, humanity, greed, and lengths that people go to in desperation. And, this is one movie with a truly perfect ending. Watching the last few moments, I said four little words and it was like the director heard me. “End it with hope.”
I will include their press release below for more information.
[Los Angeles, CA] Entertainment Squad will release the mystery-thriller ROOT LETTER in select theaters and on-demand on September 1.
Root Letter is adapted from the best-selling Japanese video game of the same title from Kadokawa Games. The film centers on Carlos (Top Gun: Maverick’s Danny Ramirez), an impoverished teen from a fractured home, as he attempts to reconnect with Sarah (Keana Marie), a school pen pal after he receives a desperate note from her claiming that she has killed someone. As Carlos travels to Sarah’s hometown and investigates, he uncovers a criminal plot involving Sarah’s fraught group of friends, and a chilling secret which has led to Sarah’s disappearance.
Directed by award-winning and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Sonja O’Hara (Mid-Century, Doomsday), and written by Tribeca Film Festival-winning screenwriter David Ebeltoft (Here Alone, the upcoming Blood for Dust), the film stars Danny Ramirez (Top Gun: Maverick, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), Keana Marie (Netflix’s Dash & Lily), with Mark St. Cyr (High School Musical: The Musical – The Series, the upcoming The Menu) and Lydia Hearst (Z Nation, the upcoming Slayers).