Screen/Society--Precarious Living--"Bless Their Little Hearts" (1984) New Restoration
Precarious Living: Rediscoveries in American Independent Film
"Bless Their Little Hearts"
(Billy Woodberry, 1984, 80 min, DCP)
The vaunted history of the L.A. Rebellion hit a high point with Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep (1977) and hit another with Bless Their Little Hearts seven years later. Working with a screenplay by Burnett, Billy Woodberry brings to life this portrait of a married couple and their three young children whose emotional resources are drained by the precarious effects of underemployment. Woodberry's supremely observant style suits his exquisite work with actors; Nate Hardman's quietly explosive, self-pitying performance makes explicit the delicate ties between stable employment and masculine self-worth; and Kaycee Moore (Killer of Sheep, Daughters of the Dust) gives an exceptionally nuanced performance as the family's primary emotional laborer. Full of humor and devoid of the least pity for its characters, Bless Their Little Hearts is a striking portrait of working poverty in Reagan's 80's, and a classic of independent cinema.
"This wonderful neo-realist look at a working-class black family in South Central LA is worthy of being placed alongside Burnett's Killer of Sheep. Passionately recommended." Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Precarious Living film series home page: