A single mother is due at a job interview soon, one that will take her some time to get to, since she has to take a bus. But when her babysitter bails at the last minute, she contacts everyone she knows to watch her sons, Brandon and little brother Mason, but no one is available.
Left with no choice, she has to leave the boys alone, putting older brother Brandon in charge. For the most part, they can take care of themselves. But when the unexpected happens, Brandon must step up as the oldest brother in the best way he knows how.
Written and directed by Logan Jackson with great lucidity and elegance, this lyrical short drama captures the closeness and bond between a tight-knit pair of siblings and their mother, whose world will be put to the test by an unexpected challenge. The film creates an atmosphere of richness and intimacy, thanks to its focused, thoughtful sense of craft, its beautifully elegiac score, and profound respect for its young characters.
After a quick, tense series of increasingly frustrating phone calls by the mother and her final instructions to her children before being forced to leave them, there's very little dialogue. Instead, the film lets its precise, unhurried and thoughtful images and editing construct the quiet but peaceable world of this small family. Taking a naturalistic visual approach, the camera's documentary-like eye captures everything from the vivid, colorful artwork on the walls to the Ramen noodles the boys make for themselves in the microwave to their improvised games. They play, they watch TV, they make art, they dance, and they emerge from this elongated interlude as innocent, creative children, from a home that may have its socioeconomic challenges but is still rich in care, love and dignity.
Young performers Kash and KJ Roberson play Brandon and Mason with great naturalness and ease in front of the camera, and their charm lies in their innocence, easy companionship and clear connection. But when a challenge arises and Brandon must act, he rises to the occasion -- scared and frightened like the kid he is, but still able to fulfill the role of big brother in charge.
Poetic, sensitive and quietly beautiful, "My Hero" takes its time to patiently build a world and atmosphere of warmth, a cloistered cocoon of childhood innocence and imagination. But it pays off in a compelling, emotional ending. There's great care taken to detail the small but wearying struggles that single parents go through. But it ultimately builds a moving tribute to brothers, family and the beautiful spirit of young Black children, taking on immense responsibilities for better or worse, and often rising to the occasion with little recognition or fanfare. We leave the film feeling like we know and care for these boys, wondering how they'll grow up, if they're okay -- as if they were our own neighbors or loved ones, palpably alive and present.