SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! Writer-director Rashad Frett’s short drama Ricky follows the titular character as he struggles with life outside prison. Ricky (Parish Bradley) seems unenthused about everything on the other side of the bars. He isn’t looking for a job, content to just loaf about his concerned and caring mother.
Ricky’s brother, James (Maliq Johnson), offers little support, unable to even drive him to his new job though promising he would. Nervous and not wanting to let down his neighbor who gave him the position, Ricky takes James’ car while he’s still sleeping. This little act, born out of a desire to do the right thing and show up to his job, cascades into life-changing events for Ricky and everyone in his orbit.
Running 20 minutes long, Ricky feels more like a chapter in a larger narrative than an entirely standalone plot. While there are flashbacks to what happened all those years ago, the specifics are not doled out. The ending may especially drive some folks crazy, as it builds to one moment and then leaves viewers hanging.
“…cascades into life-changing events for Ricky and everyone in his orbit.”
However, that is not a bad thing exactly. Frett is more interested in getting across that hopeless and desperate feeling of the main character in a snapshot. To that end, he is most successful. The adrenaline felt as things close in on Ricky will leave audiences on the edge of their seats.
To that end, Parish Bradley gives a surprising performance. At first, he seems too apathetic and low energy to deliver the emotional state Ricky aims for. But, as his life spirals more out of control and there’s a constant tension threatening to put him back behind bars, the actor opens up more and more. By the end, he’s as vulnerable and emotionally resonant as anyone could be. It’s exactly what this narrative calls for from the lead actor.
To that end, the reason to watch Ricky is for its ending. While the story doesn’t appear to amount to much, those final two or three minutes are perfectly calibrated. Frett packs quite the wallop in such a brief timeframe.
Ricky screened at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.