From my virtual experience taking part in the Film Girl Film Festival, I got the chance to experience Yucca Fest. In Chelsea Murphy’s directorial debut, her brilliant vision and craft makes Yucca Fest a heist film like no other. There are no explosions, no violence, but simply four friends, a concert festival, and lots of California scenery. I love Yucca Fest because it is a film that is both realistic and artistic. Yucca Fest speaks to the society we live in today which is filled with concerts, money, and risky decisions among young adults. More importantly, the film is presented faithfully through the eyes of Murphy herself.
Yucca Fest is the name of the festival, and the film takes place in the Joshua Tree area in southern California. The four friends are Summer (played by Monroe Cline), Pete (played by Jey Reynolds), Zach (played by Nicholas Harsin), and Kevin (played by Dale van Slyke). They are all young adults who make bad decisions involving pickpocketing and stealing money in a variety of ways. The friends realize they can score big money if they rob a music festival which they know is risky. The question that keeps the audience curious is if the friends can pull their plan off because someone else may be onto the money as well. Yucca Fest is a film of frustration and disbelief as struggling young adults aspire to a more fulfilling financial life. Sadly, their focus on the financial part of life leads to poor decisions.
What spoke to me about Yucca Fest were the decisions related to criminal behavior. These are young adults who are engaging in conversations about how money impacts their lives. However, instead of enjoying the real experience of attending the festival, their focus is on the money they’ll make by stealing. It is a reverse money’s worth situation for the four young adults.
The setting in California enhances the film’s narrative of Yucca Fest. There are many stereotypical California characters in the movie, including those who love skateboards and trendy clothes, and who revel in the freedom the state has to offer. During this freedom, viewers are left wondering why the young adults are making such poor life choices. Murphy challenges her audience by making the situation overwhelming for the four friends. The magnitude of the heist is portrayed as both remarkable and astounding.
Yucca Fest is a film I will remember for being a very different, unpredictable heist movie. It is not one’s typical heist thriller, but it is clever and realistic with generous believability. Three stars for Yucca Fest. The film can be viewed on Filmgirlfilm.com as part of the Feature series in the Film Girl Film Festival. The festival runs March 25-31 and be accessed virtually. For more of my reviews, my site is movieswithtarek.com.