Taking advantage of blind casting, Rogers Park is a family affair that puts the spotlight on the Chicago neighborhood of the same name.
Directed by Kyle Henry from a screenplay written by Carlos Treviño, the Chicago-set film stars Antoine McKay, Sara Sevigny, Jonny Mars, and Christine Horn.
All four of the leading characters have their own issues in the film. Zeke (McKay) is dealing with financial issues of his own and doesn’t want to let his wife, Grace (Sevigny), in on the problems. Zeke also has a daughter and shares custody with his ex-wife. This is an area in which the family could problem communicate better.
Meanwhile, Grace’s brother, Chris (Mars), is battling depression. He’s an author and his grief and depression is causing him a load of issues–complicating his relationship with his girlfriend, Deena (Horn). Deena goes so far as suggest they have an open relationship and thinks that Grace and Zeke should do the same. A bulk of the issues Chris is dealing with seems to be a result of a bad relationship with his recently deceased father. Grace seems to have coped just fine but Chris seems to have gotten that bad end of the stick and now manages through working with a therapist.
I love what they did for the casting of Rogers Park. The casting for the film came as a result of an interesting process. For the two couples, they selected four actors as a result of blind casting for a week-long workshop. Race and gender didn’t matter. The only things that mattered were whether or not the actors were middle-aged, experienced improvisers, and could reflect the Rogers Park diversity. This resulted in two biracial couples.
While all the performances are solid, it’s Sevigny who delivers the most outstanding performance in the film. In watching McKay’s performance, it’s only a matter of time before his career breaks out in a way that so many Second City alumni have done in the past.
Treviño’s screenplay is one that explores whether or not the two couples will be able to survive a midlife crisis during a yearlong period. Behind the camera, Henry gives the cast has ample space to perform their work with minimal camera movements from cinematographer Drew Xanthopoulos.
It may not be the Chicago-set film that pays tribute to so many local sites but at its core, Rogers Park shows that couples are not immune to problems no matter how old they are or where they live. It does so with a core group of actors that represented the Chicago neighborhood.
Rogers Park premiered during the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival. The film will open in Chicago exclusively at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Friday, February 23, 2018. A theatrical roll-out will follow in other cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin and more, come March.