A Story about a Working-Class Black Family

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Documentary About a Working-Class Black Family

With a huge amount of empathy and patience, Jonathan Olshefski delivers a great documentary about a working-class black family that lived through the years when Obama was the president. Barack Obama, however, is not the subject of the movie. The movie takes a look through the life of the family from the period when Obama first became president through to when Trump entered his first term. Ideally, the movie is among the highest grades of documentary movies in 2017. Christopher Rainey, popularly known as “Quest” is a key character in the film. He is referred to as Quest in relation to a recording studio that he has in the basement that also goes by the same name. Ideally, the movie is a story about a family, neighbors and how change is taking place devastating the community with crime, gun violence. The main subject in Quest is a social transition from better to worse through the era of Obama into that one of Trump.

Quest's Belief in Self-Change

Quest, the major character in the movie, believes that we are the major pioneers of the most appropriate and effective change. He believes that the first role models should be people themselves. The movie illustrates an angry cry of the heart of a small middle-class community that does not have any association with the celebrity community. In the movie, Mr. Rainey wakes up early in the morning to do coupon delivery door to door in the neighborhood. On the other hand, his wife works long hours in a shelter for people surviving in domestic violence. The film gives a person the gift to see things that people do and goes on to honor individual’s opaque and complicated individuality. The director does not mean to intrude in the lives of the people in the movie. He and the crew that is helping him record what Rainey and his family are willing to show and tell about their lives. In the movie, time flows like a current instead of just advancing steadily in accordance with a clock or a calendar. The first term of President Obama passes on quickly, and before long PJ and his father are already talking about Mitt Romney in the 2012 election draws. In the movie, politics is a part of their world and a huge platform where issues that are recently stirred up debates in public. Among the issues that are common include addiction, crime, healthcare, and tension between African American citizens and the police. A factor that affects the Rainey’s family is gun violence, it affects the family with traumatic force and affects the family’s compensative rhythm and calmness throughout the film. Ideally, the endurance that the family keeps on with is moving since they keep going despite the disaster they face.

The Normalcy of the Rainey Family

The movie does not particularly hold up the subject of strength or suffering. Ideally, it is just the Raineys who take pride in the normalcy of their lives and enable one another and the community everyone in their own way. The family is not pleased with the leadership of Trump, and at some point, they make such claims when Christine does not agree with the claims of Donald Trump that African Americans live in unrelieved squalor. She expresses her disgust by saying that the politician has no idea of how they were living. The power of the movie lies on the attention to drama the movie gives when it comes to everyday existence (Lodge). Through the movie, we can track the tenderness, adolescence mods and occasional tension of PJ and the relationship that she has with her parents. Through the movie, we can also see the ups and downs that she faces with her friends and her kin. We also see other aspects of William Rainey’s son who is being treated for brain cancer. William is also about to become a father. Another character that is also important to focus is Prince; he is a talented rapper who is a creative collaborator in Rainey’s studio. Prince is, however, a drug and alcohol user who squanders his promise and takes advantage of his friend’s good intention as he tries to fight his habit.

Changes in the Lives of the Rainey Family

When the movie starts, the couple is stumping for Obama in his first presidential campaign. Then the next time we see them Trump is on TV complaining about the Hispanic and the African Americans and the way they are living in the inner cities during a campaign. What goes on during these few years affects how the family makes its daily grind to make ends meet and the fun of seeing grow properly and the adjustment a person has to make when things in life are not working. The change in time is not displayed more like a time capsule, but rather as a scrapbook, a collection of memories. The movie lets you see through Rainey’s life, the ugly, the bad and the good. The movie also speaks a lot about the life of a working class and the importance of a community, perseverance parenting, how speaking up and speaking out. However, the movie is not structured as a case study checklist of large topic or a voice for ordinary lives, but more as a combination of Rainey’s disappointments and victories in one story. It also focuses on his relationship with his wife Christine and tries not to ignore the reality of their surroundings.

A Pleasure in the Company of Rainey and His Family

As the movie comes to an end what the movie offers the audience is not just some well-earned empathy but rather the pleasure of being in the company of Rainey and his family. Ideally, this is what makes the film worth seeing (Scott). The movie was sometimes baggy or formless, and there were times in the film there were attempts to try fitting in the messiness of life into a narrative that is easy to digest. There is nothing much to make sense of in the movie than nearly a decade of peoples experiences that were recorded and edited with a definite plan other than the idea of “and then this happened.” The movie is rich and rewarding and among its best moments include a conversation between P.J and Christopher as they walk to school, there is a climatic repetition of a drummer keeping the beat to give a full circle moment, and there is a dressing down of a musician who is trying to battle his demons. Throughout the film, we get to witness one of the most humanistic looks into the lives of people living in America and how currently history feels more like a gift.

Works Cited

Lodge, Guy. “Film Review: Quest.” Variety, Variety, 2017, variety.com/2017/film/reviews/quest-review-1202014622/. Accessed 29 Nov. 2018.

Scott, A. O. “Review: 'Quest' Is a Moving Portrait of an American Family.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/12/07/movies/quest-review-philadelphia-documentary.html?referrer=google_kp. Accessed 29 Nov. 2018.

September 25, 2023


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