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AIFF Review: Princess of the Row

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How far would you go for someone you love? 12-year-old Alicia (Tayler Buck) takes this test as we see her innocence begin to slip away in Princess of the Row. In this tale of the ultimate role reversal we see a young girl’s profound love for her father, a father who is unable to care for himself, let alone his daughter. After suffering a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq, veteran Sergeant Beaumont Willis III (Edi Gathegi) is fated to live out his days on the street, skid row to be exact. Each day is compounded with more and more bouts of severe PTSD, but each day his daughter moves heaven and earth, it seems, to be with him even if she only gets fleeting moments of lucidity in return.

Strong, resilient, loving, stubborn, creative. These are the exact words used to describe Alicia in Princess of the Row and she lives up to every single one. They are the same words I would use to describe this film. The music could not have been more perfect, lyrically we are guided through scenes feeling exactly what Alicia and her father are feeling in the moment. Not to mention the flashbacks that take us back to when Alicia was a child, before her father’s injury. These scenes are peppered throughout the film and help to further the story as well as allowing the audience to develop a deeper connection with the characters.

Princess of the Row sheds light on multiple realities, the desolate nothingness that can await soldiers who have been separated from service, a feeling no one seems to understand. A parallel to the spotlight put on the foster care system, a child is handed off to home after home, sometimes being told she is not worthy of a family. Maybe the most important of all, at what point do you sacrifice the fairytale for self-preservation? We are there as Alicia reaches her hour of truth, a heartbreakingly honest and real moment. A moment that Gathegi and Buck pull the audience into, almost as if we are right there experiencing it with them.

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