*Dora Allen (Paula Wilson) is blessed with a special talent, namely, the ability to offer anybody just the right relationship advice they’re looking for.
Even strangers, like a bus driver or another passenger, can sense that she’s a human whisperer of sorts, so they are prompted to dump their personal problems on her lap impulsively.
This state of affairs might be all well and good if only Dora’s own relationships were simultaneously flourishing. But she’s been so busy attending to the emotional needs of others that she’s neglected the disaster that her life has become.
First of all, she’s not on speaking terms with her sister, Karen (Julienne Irons), perhaps because of the incestuous mess she created by dating her ex-boyfriend, Kevin (Booker T. Washington). A product of a broken mixed-marriage, Dora doesn’t get along with her black mother (Sydney Chase) who’d like to bury the hatchet, or with her white dad (Clyde Baldo) who has a bad habit of making inappropriate comments. For example, he made her very uncomfortable to have to watch him and her best friend, Myra (Antonia Marrero), flirting with each other at Karen’s surprise birthday party.
So unfolds Life’s Passing Me By, a delightful, character-driven sit-dram set all around New York City. The movie marks the feature-length directorial debut of School of Visual Arts grad Mark Cabaroy, who somehow shot his movie on a shoestring budget of just $700. Cabaroy coaxed a number of inspired performances out of a cast of virtual unknowns, starting with Paula Wilson who is nothing short of brilliant in the pivotal role of Dora.
The story is unpredictable and so engaging that you quickly forget the low production values as you become immersed in the plight of the members of the motley ensemble. Good enough to earn the #3 spot on my annual Blacktrospective’s Best Independent Films list last year, Life’s Passing Me By is a flick well-deserving of a distributor for a theatrical run in 2010.
An alternately entertaining and thought-provoking, irreverent romp ultimately revealed as the sort of rare cinematic jewel which makes my job a joy.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 88 Minutes
To see a trailer for Life’s Passing Me By, visit: