The documentary "Quest" does something so simple and, given our times, something miraculous: It takes us into the lives of a family to show our commonality, not our differences.
The movie introduces the Rainey family of North Philadelphia in 2008. The father, Christopher, a k a "Quest," works several jobs to support his family and keep a local recording studio running. The mother, Christine'a, a k a "Ma Quest," works at a homeless shelter. Together they raise their daughter PJ, who wants to follow in her dad's musical footsteps.
Director Jonathan Olshefski follows the Raineys over the course of nearly a decade, capturing big moments and small ones. Quest helps get PJ ready for school, and hosts a Friday-night open-mic studio session for local rappers, while Christine'a does the bills and keeps the family running.
Olshefski drops time markers of what's going on outside the neighborhood, starting with Barack Obama's election and ending with Donald Trump's. But it's a horrific event closer to home that hits the Rainey family and forces them to rally to a difficult challenge.
The cinema-verité approach unfolds naturally, with no narrator and a minimum of talking-head interviews. Mostly, "Quest" makes its impact by catching an American family in the act of making it in a tough world.
– Sean P. Means
"Quest" screens again at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival at the following times and venues:
• Monday, Jan. 23, 4 p.m., Redstone Cinema 2, Park City
• Wednesday, Jan. 25, 3:45 p.m., Broadway Centre Cinema 3, Salt Lake City
• Thursday, Jan. 26, noon, Library Center Theatre, Park City
• Friday, Jan. 27, 9 p.m., Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City