The Soul Graffiti
Nov 13, 2022
Danielle Brower, Kyle Loethen, Justin Stidham
Popular country radio station K.A.N.T. or 101 The Boot in St. Anthony, Missouri is under threat after long-term owner Ray Deakins passed away and left it to his no-good son Ray Deakins Jr. (Justin Stidham), who has since converted it into failing pop channel 101 The Jam. As the station bleeds advertisement income, Deakins Jr. begins laying off the staff including DJs and the 28-year veteran local news reporter. Morning show host Niki Bliss (Danielle Brower) must rouse the remaining staff to save the station, and herself, from both financial and identity crises. Meanwhile down on his luck, wannabe salesman Ben Cross (Kyle Loethen) is dumped by his fiancé and living in a motel, until coincidence draws him and Niki Bliss’ together and his life begins to find some direction.
The recipe of The Soul Graffiti is well-tried and tested, a hearty core duo working to fix themselves, a glug of bad guy in Deakins Jr., and seasoned with a handful of colourful side characters, like a stereotypical cowboy DJ. Conventional, but comforting. Nothing is more testament to this than the title, coming from a classic schmaltzy midway speech that Niki Bliss gives, “Y’know soul graffiti… it’s like decorations that people leave behind on you…People have a way of leaving a mark on each of us, we’re all walking, talking, loving, hating, works of art.” Although that isn’t to say that there aren’t a few moments throughout where the chef could have done with tasting the dish before adding ingredients, and some may find that the hundred-and-ten minutes cooking time leaves it a little overdone.
In low-budget indie filmmaking, it comes with the territory to overlook some of the issues with poor image quality, and even lacklustre image composition (a problem that somehow plagues even the biggest of big-budget movies nowadays), but in The Soul Graffiti because it is set in a radio station it feels frustrating when there are issues with the audio quality whether it be sound editing or mixing. As to be expected there is a constant soundtrack of both original and non-original songs, but their position in the mix is often distracting. This is more noticeable in scenes where the characters’ dialogue is not crisp and clear, ironically worse when they are in a radio booth opposite a professional microphone. The issue is by no means a deal breaker, but given the subject of the film it becomes more distinct.
The Soul Graffiti is a pleasing drama but lacks that special something to distinguish it from the pack. There are plenty of worse ways to spend just shy of two inoffensive hours than watching Niki Bliss and the team at 101 The Jam save their radio station from the grips of nepotism, incompetence, and greed, whilst learning a bit about themselves along the way.