Matias (Gerardo Velasquez) has had a rough start to his day. The sheriff showed up with the landlord to evict his family. Mad at his father for being too proud to ask for help, he wants escape, but his neither his low-income neighbourhood or his similarly economically deprived friends offers much reprieve. So you almost can’t blame him when he and buddy Carlos (Ulysses Montoya) hop a fence to swim in the luxurious backyard pool of a wealthy neighbour who’s out of town.
They have such a nice time it seems almost criminal to keep their good fortune to themselves, so they’re soon joined by Carlos’ car-thieving, trunk-full-of-stolen-goods cousin Steve (Justin Rodriguez), and the girls: Vanessa (Michelle Magalon), Jasmin (Alessandra Mañon), and Isabel (Naome Antoinette). Of course, with the pool such a refreshing success, it’s only a matter of time before the group infiltrates the house as well, trying on clothes, microwaving food, inhabiting a life that, let’s face it, feels awfully good.
You can already sense that the stakes are getting incrementally higher; trespassing is one thing, breaking and entering another. But the kids aren’t doing a smash and grab, they’re cooling their heels on fine furnishings, drying off with plush towels, drinking top shelf booze. They’re pretending to be rich. They’re trying on wealth like a coat in a department store and it looks and feels so good they’re reluctant to part with it. But it’s not theirs, and thanks to subtle directing by Laura Somers, the audience never quite forgets it. Tension mounts the longer they stay; there’s a certain inevitability in the air, like the world they live in will want to put them back in their place.
Somers builds a line (or a wrought-iron gate) between the haves and have-nots. There’s no malice and there doesn’t have to be: the line simply exists. Wealth and privilege and the colour of one’s skin. It’s all tied together and it’s clear these kids have already felt how difficult these knots will be to untie.
A strong ensemble cast and some directorial restraint make Rich Kids a must-see.