Quest (2017)


Meet the Raineys: patriarch Christopher “Quest” Rainey, who deftly flips circulars onto endless row house porches for a living and runs a small home recording studio on the side; mother-to-many Christine’a “Ma Quest” Rainey, a dedicated women’s shelter worker; older teenage son William Withers, recently diagnosed with cancer and with a baby of his own to care for; and young daughter PJ, the brightest star in this family unit—basketball wiz, musical prodigy, a confident breath of fresh air—whose life will one day take a dramatic, life-changing turn. Shot in and around North Philadelphia over a ten-year period, Jonathan Olshefski’s moving, methodical documentary Quest follows this charismatic African-American family as they struggle with the typical and not-so-typical family challenges in a neighborhood “besieged by inequality and neglect.” It’s an intimate look at a couple whose love for each other is palpable, a beautiful and courageous partnership, one that provides an outlet for their neighborhood’s aspiring rappers and hip-hop artists via “Freestyle Fridays.” Watching this family go about its day-to-day business is mesmerizing and we don’t want the experience to end, despite the hardships and the pitfalls and the tragedies that beset them over the course of this remarkable decade. Socially trenchant, deeply compelling, and surprisingly hopeful, Quest is a tenderly-shot and eloquently-observed family portrait that reflects the fact that strength, hope, and love are not only welcomed here, but required.

(c) 2017 David N. Butterworth