“Lowriders” offers an insightful contemporary snapshot of some of Los Angeles’ easternmost neighborhoods, from Boyle Heights to Elysian Park and Echo Park. Long home to working class Latino communities, these areas have recently become hotspots for gentrification, and most attempts to put them on film have tended to focus exclusively on one side or the other. In reality these demographics mix freely, if sometimes awkwardly, and it feels refreshingly realistic to see our teenage graffiti-artist hero Danny Alvarez (Gabriel Chavarria) hit up an illicit car show, a bougie art walk, a quinceañera and real-life Downtown punk venue the Smell in the span of a few weeks.
Immersed in the Mexican-American lowrider tradition, Danny practically grew up in the garage of his recovering alcoholic father Miguel (a convincingly sorrowful Demian Bichir), and Miguel’s choice of a business name — Alvarez & Sons Motors — leaves little mystery as to the career he hopes Danny will pursue. More at home with a set of spray cans on highway overpasses, Danny’s preferred artistic medium couldn’t be further from his father’s sensibilities, and when he and his skater buddy Chuy (“The Grand Budapest Hotel’s” Tony Revolori) are picked up by the cops one night, Miguel orders him to work off the fine in the garage.
Further complications ensue with the reemergence of Danny’s brother, the charming yet volatile Francisco “Ghost” Alvarez (Theo Rossi), after a bid in prison. Ghost and Miguel are in the midst of a long feud, and Ghost hardly speaks to his new stepmom, Gloria (Eva Longoria, digging nicely into a minor character without attempting to usurp the leads). Ghost quickly convinces his younger brother to come live with him and use his graffiti skills to paint hood murals for his own rival car club, hoping to one-up his father at a big upcoming lowrider competition in Elysian Park.
Meanwhile, Danny strikes up a flirtation with a scenester photographer named Lorelai (Melissa Benoist), who had unknowingly been photographing Danny’s street murals for her own exhibits. Though underdeveloped romantically, their relationship provides for an intriguing wrinkle as Lorelai introduces Danny to her art world friends. One encounter with a hipster gallery curator offers some deftly-scripted commentary on the exotification of minority artists: When Lorelai tries to pitch him as a rough-edged Boyle Heights Basquiat who learned his craft “on the streets,” Danny gets unnerved, shooting back, “it’s not like I’m homeless…”
Lowriders is a 2016 American drama film directed by Ricardo de Montreuil, and written by Elgin James and Cheo Hodari Coker. The film stars Demián Bichir, Gabriel Chavarria, Theo Rossi, Melissa Benoist, Tony Revolori and Eva Longoria. Filming began on May 27, 2015 in Los Angeles. The film was released on May 12, 2017 by Blumhouse Tilt and Universal Pictures. It received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed $6 million.
Melissa Benoist was added to the cast of the film on May 21, 2015, she would play Lorelai, previously Lily Collins and Nicola Peltz were in talks to play the role. Gabriel Chavarria was set on June 1, 2015 to play Danny in the film. Principal photography on the film began in Los Angeles on May 27, 2015. Filming was taking place in a cafe on June 4, 2015 in East Los Angeles. Lowriders was released in the United States on May 12, 2017, alongside with Snatched and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and was expected to gross around $1 million from 295 theaters. It ended up debuting to $2.4 million, finishing 8th at the box office.
Directed by: Ricardo de Montreuil
Starring: Gabriel Chavarria, Demián Bichir, Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, Melissa Benoist, Yvette Monreal, Eva Longoria, Montse Hernandez, Noel Gugliemi, Taishi Mizuno, Taishi Mizuno
Screenplay by: Elgin James, Cheo Hodari Coker
Production Design by: Melanie Jones
Cinematography by: Andrés Sánchez
Film Editing by: Billy Fox, Kiran Pallegadda
Costume Design by: Mirren Gordon-Crozier
Set Decoration by: Karuna Karmarkar
Art Direction by: Hunter Brown, Eve McCarney
Music by: Bryan Senti
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some violence, sensuality, thematic elements and brief drug use.
Distributed by: BH Tilt, Universal Pictures
Release Date: May 12, 2017