In 2013, American Honey provided a unique vision of growing up in America. Its characters came from around the country but represented a generation struggling to make their way. The powerful road-trip film forced audiences to confront race, sexuality, and oppression within a microcosm. Lost Soulz, from director Katherine Propper, makes a strong case to be this decade’s American Honey. The story of a young rapper trying to balance his guilt, responsibility, and dreams makes for one of the year’s best films.

Sol (Sauve Sidle) believes he will achieve superstardom as a rapper and musical artist. One night, he attends a party with his friend Wesley (Siyanda Stillwell), but Sol leaves with a hip-hop collective. The group, managed by Nina (Krystall Poppin), books gigs across Texas. As they perform for audiences and Sol gets closer to achieving his dream, guilt over leaving Wesley begins to weigh on him.

The emotional performance from Sidle announces the arrival of a talent. Sidle carries the confidence of a man trying to find his footing, but he remains tethered to his emotional core. Even when he finds success, he wonders about those he left behind. Throughout Lost Soulz, Propper ensures Sol earns his laudits. Sidle’s self-loathing and inability to enjoy his breakthrough success takes his character to the next level.

Lost Soulz

Poppin and Aaron SevenMelloul provide excellent sounding boards for Sidle. Each of these performers brings a unique mirror to Sol. Poppin’s belief in Sidle’s character opens new doors for him, and Poppin’s optimism can be read through the screen. Her support feels undying, even in moments when she questions his drive. Meanwhile, Melloul adds a meandering, unfocused figure that thrives on darkness. If Sidle’s Sol does not find the compass for his personal responsibility, he will become just as directionless. Melloul draws the attention of the camera, and his energy as the group’s “bad boy” reads in every frame. It makes for a contentious relationship and allows everyone to grow.

Propper captures the vibrancy of the SoundCloud music scene. There’s an indie feel to each sequence, and the struggles become apparent. Lost Soulz shows the team has considerable talent. Yet it’s not talent alone that creates a superstar. Self-awareness and luck are required for some to take advantage of their moment. Even then, timing may not be on their side.

By pushing the characters to travel via the road trip narrative, we feel the ephemeral nature of the music scene. The power of SoundCloud and modern hip-hop comes from the ability of its stars to reach an audience of millions overnight. Yet even objectively great music can get lost in the days and nights spent in vans. While Sol might be one of the artists who can make it, his biggest impression comes from a video that ends up on WorldStar.

The craft team and musical talent involved in Lost Soulz should take a bow. The cinematography from Donald Monroe stuns. He captures color with ease and adds depth to the conversations on screen. The choice to shift between a movie camera and cell phone footage allows for a blending of cinematic language with modern social media. Excellent costume design and makeup help to distinguish characters. Yet the crowning achievement comes from the soundtrack and music. The entire ensemble, including Alexander Brackney, Micro TDH, Malachi Mabson, Tauran Ambroise all contribute. Micro TDH stands out as a singer, but every person who contributes wows. It’s one thing to make a movie set in this world, but populating it with good music gives Lost Soulz authenticity that cannot be faked.

Lost Soulz

The emotionally sweeping Lost Soulz takes shape in the final act. During this time, Sol begins to experience a modicum of success but questions who he left behind for it. As he does, guilt manifests itself in montage. Propper puts the audience inside Sol’s brain as he attempts to live with the guilt and anger. The pictures of those he left or let downwash over him. It’s a powerful visual motif that adds to the experience.

Lost Soulz challenges its audience to engage with a world it might not understand. Yet, it provides a stunningly human portrait of those who frequent the space. With breakout performances from Sidle, Melloul, and Poppin, Lost Soulz should find power in the years to come. For Propper, it’s a very promising start to her directorial career. If she can continue crafting emotional films like Lost Soulz, we will say her name a lot more often.

Alan’s Rating: 9/10

What do you think of Lost Soulz? Let us know in the comments below. Check it out at Tribeca 2023.

Check out our reviews and pieces from the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival here!

2 thoughts on “Tribeca 2023: ‘Lost Soulz’ – A Deeply Introspective Vision of the Road to Fame

  1. Watched both screenings of this movie and loved it each time. Got different things from both viewings .
    The camp fire scene with Alex and that song he free styled is still in my head right now. Need a soundtrack from this movie for sure !!!

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