Morris From America is a lovely little picture. It follows a classic coming-of-age arc, but it is persistently a story that is confident in doing it’s own thing — just like its hero. Even more welcome than a single father with his son trying to make it work in a foreign country (Frankfurt, Germany to be exact), is the introduction of Markees Christmas, who joins the ranks of a couple other production-carrying new talents to burst onto the scene this year. (See also: Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch and Julian Dennison in The Hunt for the Wilderpeople).
Christmas is the vibrant heart and soul of this tale of a 13-year-old American with dreams of rapping living in a world where he is very much a fish out of water. We follow Morris not only through the emotionally confusing trials of adolescence, but through any number of lost in translation culture shock situations. Morris From America doesn’t quite surpass the rank of good — it’s not a revelation, it’s not a revolution, it’s not perfect, but it’s perfectly lovely to watch.
The cast is small, but nothing about Morris From America feels limited. We get a wonderful sense of the world thanks to many, many exterior shots, and we watch Morris in the company of such a wide swath of figures in his life that we’re able to discern him as a complete human, even before he is able to suss out his own edges. Among the film’s most memorable and delightful scenes are those Morris shares with his tutor, Inka. She’s young enough to understand his plight, but old enough to have the perspective that’s all too elusive at 13.
Morris From America is a charming, often chuckle-inducing little slice-of-life. It’s the perfect change of pace film to transition you from the shoot-em-ups of summer to the moody dramas of fall and winter.