Toe to Toe depicts the struggles of two girls who go to school, and occasionally play full matches of lacrosse together (when not in the midst of jealous fights). The film as a whole often covers the two teens separately, or hones in on one individual from separate sides of a room. In one particular moment where the girls are at the same 'Go Go Party' (basically a DJ on stage performing), and are jealously glaring at one another, the movie takes an eye-roll worthy turn, as the focus is placed on an impromptu dance-off in the middle of the crowd.
Why are these a requirement for every filmed concert scene? Has anyone ever actually witnessed a dance battle that wasn't an elaborate, ironic joke?
Also a source of frustration are the racial remarks from all parties involved. These remarks feel so manufactured and like a bad Nineties film crutch, which is completely opposite the strong family interactions that happen to feel both genuine, and realistic. The unflinching focus on reckless, underage sex (which is not played for laughs as you've come to expect from a teen film) is a main focus for the entire film... a quick way to take a serious turn. But while it comes dangerously close to being disgustingly depicted (keyword: underage), it becomes almost heart-wrenching to see the effects it has on choice characters.
Sonequa Martin (as Tosha) contributes a great deal to this film. She never once looks like she's acting - a rare commodity for someone of her presumed age. You get so familiar with her as a person, while watching Toe to Toe, that you start to question where else you've seen her before this! Sonequa simply nails the role, and brings weight to the picture that it was desperately lacking.
Toe to Toe ultimately improves in time for the end, in part due to the characters universal revelations that they are truly messed up (in more ways than one), as well as their subsequent responsibility taking, in atonement for their mistakes. The conclusion itself makes sense, and isn't forced... not something I've come to expect from an contemporary independent drama.
In select theaters February 26, expanding further March 12, 2010.