Majo Tonorio (Gina Rodriguez, 2011’s GO FOR IT!) hangs around the local radio station that lets her get a few minutes here and there to freestyle on the air. When there’s time to fill, she spits her game as Filly Brown. A sample: It’s a little different when you’re gifted, no blueprint I just slide on my lipstick, calls and the money and all y’all bitches couldn’t buy me, I got a soul full of riches.
But outside of the studio, Filly turns back into Majo, a teenager whose home life is complicated by an imprisoned mother (popular Latin singer Jenni Rivera, who died in a plane crash just last year) hoping to get out of jail once her cases is reopened, a father (Lou Diamond Phillips, who played the ill-fated Richie Valens in 1987’s LA BAMBA) who can’t keep the cash flow steady and a younger sister (Chrissie Fit, who had a recurring role as Mercedes on GENERAL HOSPITAL from 2007 to 2012) who’s taken to drugs and sleeping with “walking boners,” as Majo puts it.
One day on the air, after she unleashes a typical hip-hop number complete with ego-boosting rhymes, Filly catches the attention of a money- and sex-obsessed producer, Rayborn (Pete Harrera, who you may or may not know better as Chingo Bling). Filly and her DJ partner, Santa (Braxton Miltz, in his debut), agreed a long time ago that she should talk about the streets and the common working man, but Rayborn knows that won’t sell and that there’s no merchandising to be done in anything outside of Daddy, will you lick me doooown every time I come around? You want some of Filly Brown? He also knows that taking her clothes size down a few numbers can rake in the dough and help move her from small clubs up to big venues.
Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, FILLY BROWN is co-directed by Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos (yes, he’s Edward James’ son, and yes, it was nice he gave pops a small role), who helmed 2010’s BEDROOMS. Delara, who wrote the script, must have seen 8 MILE and/or HUSTLE & FLOW and been inspired to make a female, Latino version. This is where the primary problems arise (others concern the numerous subplots involving Majo’s family that weigh down the purpose of the story). We wanted to see B-Rabbit and DJay make a name in the music game because they were skilled and driven. Filly, instead, has weak songs (its go-to number, or its “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp,” has to be dressed up with music video editing techniques) and, despite her devotion to her loved ones, suggests she’s more about paychecks than remaining true to herself and the music.
Video: 2.40:1 in1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer features fine details and clarity throughout, but at times seems
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital; English Stereo; Spanish Stereo. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The movie sounds great on Blu-ray, especially when Filly Brown’s tracks hit.
Commentary by directors: Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos touch on a number of aspects regarding FILLY BROWN while complimenting the cast/crew.
Commentary by Reza Safinia and Gina Rodriguez: Safinia, who provided songs for FILLY BROWN, and star Rodriguez spend the track focusing on the music and commenting on what’s onscreen.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (25:56): There are 10 here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Original Opening,” “Majo and Jose,” “Santa Meets the Crew,” “Santa and Majo Make Beats,” “Santa Shows His Chops,” “Majo and Santa,” “Jose and Amanda,” “Wyatt Wants Revenge,” “Big Cee Gets the News,” and “Majo’s Confession.”