Much like classic car customization effective cinematic storytelling is often all about the delailing and Ricardo de Montreuils Lowriders which sets a tale of inter generational rivalry and artistic awakening amidst east LAs latino car culture has style and local color to spare. A peek under the hood reveals a rather shopworn story that doesn’t completely sell its more meodramatic narrative strands but thanks to trio of finely calibrated performances an authentic sense of place and one gorgeously desinged red 36 chevy the movie could get a decent degree of mileage with the proper handling.
If nothing else lowriders offers an insightful contemprary 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 bcome hotspots for gentrifiction and most attempts to put them on movie have tended to focus exclusively on ons side or the other. In reality these demographics mix freely if sometimes awkwardly and feels refreshingly realistic to see out teenage graffiti artist hero danny alvarez gabriel chavarria hit an illicit car show a bougie art walk a quinceanera 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 miguels choice of a business name alvarez and 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 preferred artistic medium couldnt be further from his father sensibilities and when he and his skater buddy chuy the grand budapest hotels 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 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 quicly 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.