Review: ‘Quest’ is usually a Moving Portrait of an American Family


Christopher as well as Christine’a Rainey within the documentary “Quest,” directed by Jonathan Olshefski.

Colleen Stepanian/First Run Features

Barack Obama is usually not the subject of “Quest,” Jonathan Olshefski’s brand-new documentary, an intimate as well as patient portrait of a North Philadelphia family. nevertheless the film, which begins as well as ends with presidential elections — Mr. Obama’s in 2008 as well as his successor’s eight years later — is usually shadowed, in some ways haunted, by his presence as well as his temperament. At one point, he appears on television, within the wake of the massacre of school children as well as their teachers in Newtown, Conn. “These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods,” he says, referring to the places in which have been devastated by gun violence. “These children are our children.”

The simple inclusiveness of in which idea as well as the feeling behind This kind of — the sense in which This kind of nation, with all of its troubles, is usually something we’re all in together — may sound especially poignant currently, as well as even a bit quaint. nevertheless a similar ethic of solidarity informs every moment of “Quest,” which brings us into the neighborhood as well as the home of Christopher as well as Christine’a Rainey as well as their teenage daughter, PJ.

Christopher is usually also known as Quest, which is usually the name of the recording studio where he sits behind the mixing boards as local rappers spit their rhymes. Christine’a is usually Ma Quest, as well as the two of them, without vanity or any expectation of praise or reward, serve as mentors, confidants as well as semi-parental figures for the people around them. Mr. Rainey wakes up at dawn to deliver coupon circulars door to door. His wife works long hours at a shelter for survivors of domestic violence. If you lived in North Philly, you would certainly want to know them. “Quest” offers the gift of imagining in which you do, even as This kind of honors their complicated, sometimes opaque individuality.


Mr. Rainey with his daughter, PJ.

Jonathan Olshefski/First Run Features

Mr. Olshefski doesn’t pry too intrusively into their lives. He as well as his crew record only what the Raineys are willing to tell as well as show, as well as a story takes shape in response to events in their lives. Time flows like a current rather than advancing steadily according to the calendar or the clock. Mr. Obama’s first term passes within the blink of an eye. Before you know This kind of, PJ as well as her father are talking about Mitt Romney as the 2012 election draws near.

Politics is usually part of their world, as well as some of the issues in which have recently galvanized public debate — health care, addiction, crime, tensions between the police as well as African-American citizens — figure prominently in “Quest.” Gun violence affects the Raineys with direct as well as traumatic force, disrupting the film’s calm, contemplative rhythm. (There’s another, blessedly benign twist later on.) The disaster in which strikes them is usually upsetting, as well as the stoicism with which they keep going is usually at least equally moving.

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