Residue (2020): What is Left?

Residue (2020): What is Left?


Residue is the debut film of writer- director Merawi Gerima premiering on the streaming service Netflix. It stars Obina Nwachukwu as a screenwriter named Jay who has come back to the neighborhood of his past to write a screenplay only to find it gentrified. Throughout the film we see him view the changes that have occurred in his absence.

Nwachukwu’s performance in this movie is great. He is not a talkative character in this film but his facial expressions carry anger and confusion. Another performance that deserves praise is Dennis Lindsey as Delonte. He represents (what is left behind) in this neighborhood as it increasingly changes. He is what is trying to be erased and he knows it. He also shows anger at this situation but from a different perspective than our main character. Jay represents the viewer and the average American as he sees the change yet is not outright affected by it. Delonte represents the African American race that is left behind in this country, suffering through the gentrification with no one noticing.

The artful presentation in this movie doesn’t always work for me. Throughout the film there are flashback sequences that leave me confused.

This film does a good job of showing how black people are affected in this country while no one even notices. Jay moved to L.A. and had no idea what was happening in his hometown. The people he grew up with are in prison or unreachable. White neighbors are in the houses where his childhood memories were made. This is jarring to Jay yet it is not surprising to the viewer. America has been doing this in real life and to the viewer it is no surprise.

This is highlighted in a scene towards the end of the movie. Two white people are sitting and they see a black man being chased by the police. They talk about the man and discuss whether this happens often. Their conversation quickly switches from the police chase to the names of districts in cities.  This shows how people really do not care about change. Our protagonist wants his neighborhood to be the same yet he left. We want him to relive his childhood but really there isn’t much the viewer can do but move on like the people witnessing the police chase. All that we can do is view the residue that’s left.