Brief Synopsis: Lee works at her family ranch, teaching people to ride horses. She is undecided what to do with her life after school, or if she should go to college. Her older brother, Casey’s, best friend, Jordan, who is black, is going to college on a football scholarship. Casey, like his sister, is a horse lover. He thinks that Lee should take three months out and ride across the country with him.
Jordan, who is afraid of horses, thinks it is a crazy idea. When Casey dies in a crash, Jordan and Lee get together. Lee decides she wants to fulfil her brother’s dream to cross the country. Lee and Jordan face prejudice and opposition to their union.
Is it any good?: Absolutely not. This film is an insult. I was waiting for Sidney Poitier to arrive and still be in his twenties. I watched this film with rising anger, having to go for a long walk before sitting down to write this review. The World We Make is horrible. It is propaganda in the Trump era.
Spoiler territory: Lee Grove (Rosie Reid) works at her family’s ranch, teaching people how to be comfortable around horses. She is in her final year of high school and is not sure what she wants to do when she leaves school.
She discusses her frustration with her older brother, Casey (Richard Kohnke). He tells her she can do what she wants, whether it is going to college, or staying and teaching kids how to ride. Lee is not sure.
Later, in the evening, Casey’s best friend, Jordan Bishop (Caleb Castille) has come to hang out. He is cordial to Lee. She jest with him about not liking horses. Casey tells her he is scared of them. Jordan denies it. Jordan has got a scholarship to go to an elite college in California, due to his ability on a football field. He will be transferring from his current college for the next semester. Lee congratulates him.
Casey says to Lee he wants to take a cross country horse ride and he wants her to come with him. It will help her figure out her next steps before college or work. Lee agrees to go with him. Jordan, who is in the room playing a video game as they get excited about the trip, calls their younger brother, Logan (Gunnar Sizemore), to come and play the game with him, wanting someone who is not a horse enthusiast in the room.
Casey leaves the house, passing the garage where his father, Jeff (Kevin Sizemore), is working on an old Mercedes. He tells him he is going into town. Jeff tells him that he is going toggle him the car when he finishes restoring it. He also tells him he is proud of him. Casey dies, crashing his truck.
After the funeral, Lee throws herself into work at the ranch. Jeff falls into a depression, barely leaving the garage. At school, Brooklyn (Katherine Smith-Rodden), Lee’s best friend, asks her how she is, as she has not seen her or heard from her.
Lee says she is busy on the ranch. Morgan (Blake Burt), who has a band, comes over to invite the girls to a gig. Brooklyn tells Lee that he likes her still, even though she rejected his advances the year before.
At home, Lee speaks to her father. He is working on the car or going to work, neglecting both Lee and Logan. Jeff tells her to sell Casey’s horse. It would lessen her workload. A furious Lee leaves him to his car.
Jordan comes to see how she is and offers to help her around the ranch. She says she could use a little help and he agrees to come over that Saturday. Lee sees an old horseshoe and decides that she wants to do the ride her and Casey were going to plan. She tells her father. He is sure she will get bored with the idea. Lee has to take on a more paternal role with her younger brother.
Jordan begins helping out at the ranch. He sees Lee helping a child with a knee brace on the horse and overhears her saying she specialises in physical therapy through horse riding. Later, Lee asks Jordan to play basketball with her brother, saying she bets he is really good at it. Jordan takes the exception. Does she think he is good at basketball because he is black? Lee gets tongue-tied, embarrassed by her assumptions.
Jordan plays basketball with Logan. Jordan, whose mother left him and his father when he was young, bonds with Logan, asking how he is dealing with losing Casey. Lee tells Jordan that she plans to do the horse ride on her own. Jordan says it does not seem safe. Lee tells him it is her dream to do it, to prove to herself and her father that she can do something big.
Jordan encourages her to do it. Lee kisses him, taking him by surprise. Jordan leaves. Jordan lives with his father, Thomas (Gregory Alan Williams). His father is a gambler, spending his money on scratch-cards and internet gambling. Jordan is frustrated with his father’s small-minded view of life.
Kimani (Candace West) comes over to the house, bringing some salt that Jordan needs for a meal he is cooking. She asks him about his early rising, having seen him leaving his house early. Thomas tells her that he is helping the Grove’s out. She asks if he is helping Lee, as she is in the same year at school with her, he tells her he is.
Jordan returns to the ranch. He asks Lee about the kiss, whether she meant it or not, or if she was just acting out of grief. She tells him she meant it. Jordan is happy about it. Lee tells him to ask her out. He is reluctant due this his financial situation. She assures him she is easily impressed.
Lee excitedly tells Brooklyn, who is happy for her but is worried about their interracial relationship. Lee is not troubled, pointing out they have had a black president. Jordan cooks a meal for Lee at the ranch, making a romantic setting in the barn. Afterwards, they go out to buy ice cream and he points out to her how he is being followed by the store owner.
Lee thinks he is being paranoid until he proves it and confronts the owner. Their relationship continues along nicely. Out to dinner in the town, Jordan notices other patrons of the restaurant staring at him. They leave the restaurant.
Lee is confronted by Kimani. She is not happy that Lee is taking one of the few good black men in the town. She leaves. Brooklyn comes over and asks what happened. Lee lies. Morgan comes over to the girls and invites them to his gig again. The next night, Morgan is at the gig with Brooklyn. Morgan comes over after his performance.
Morgan tries to hit on Lee. She tells him she is with Jordan. Morgan says he thought she was just going through a phase. Lee leaves, but not before Brooklyn tells her that she warned her that the relationship could cause issues. Lee asks Jordan if he thinks they are worth it. He says they are.
Jeff finishes the Mercedes. He gives the keys to Jordan, telling him Casey would have wanted him to drive it. Later in the day, Jordan runs into Kimani when he goes into the shop she works in to buy a gift for Lee. She gives him a bit of a hard time. Jordan returns to the car and finds Morgan and a couple of his friends leaning on it.
They get into an altercation and Jordan gets concussed and his knee is damaged. The Grove family come to see Jordan in the hospital. His father is working a double shift and cannot get to the hospital. Jeff tells his daughter he knows that she and Jordan are together, and he is happy about it.
Jordan is told by the doctor that whilst his knee is fine and will not need an operation, his concussion is serious and could be problematic in the future. When Jordan returns home, he tells his father about his concussion and its possible implications. Thomas tells him that without the scholarship he cannot go to college.
Lee goes to see Jordan. He does not tell her about the concussion. She tells him that she will help him with his rehabilitation. Jordan gets her to leave before his father returns. Lee gets Jordan on a horse, telling him the riding will help his leg muscles. She helps him with his other exercises. Jordan gifts her a pendant.
Thomas does not think Jordan being with Lee is a good idea. He is sure she is going to leave him as soon as she finds out he probably will have to give up football. Their worlds are too different. He sees no future for them. Lee works herself to exhaustion. Jordan is worried that she has not grieved for Casey. He invites her over to dinner, determined to prove his father wrong.
Jeff tells Lee that he does not want her to go on the cross country ride alone. He is afraid of losing her. He asks her not to go. Jordan comes to pick her up and takes her to meet his father. Thomas invites Kimani over making the situation awkward for both Lee and Jordan.
He tells her she can stay for dinner. Jordan tells her there is not enough food for her to stay. Kimani leaves. Thomas goads Lee about her privileged life. He tells Lee about Jordan’s concussion and its implications.
He also blames her for Jordan getting beaten up. Lee asks Jordan to take her home. Jordan asks his father to ask for work at his factory for him, rejecting his scholarship. He goes to see Lee and tells her it is best for her if they do not keep on seeing one another. He also tells her he has decided to give up football.
Lee decides to sell Casey’s horse. She breaks down, grief overcoming her. Jeff bonds with Logan over a game of basketball. Jordan comes to see Lee. She gave him the money from the sale of the horse so he could go to college. Lee tells her that he will do the ride with her. They do the ride. The end.
The World We Make is an infuriating viewing experience. As well as being poorly written and acted—more on that later—the story is so bad and dated, I cannot see how anyone had the gall to write it. What is worse is they do not even commit to the racial aspects, instead having him overreact to some staring—more like looking—and some high school nonsense.
In a town where most of the women are white, as this film intimates, it can hardly be unusual that a black man is with a white woman. His best friend was white, in a predominantly white town, and he is supposed to be a bit of a sports star, how is him being with a white girl an issue in his school?
Like I alluded to in the brief review, it was like a film made with Sidney Poitier in mind, if it was made in the sixties. All the male characters in the film are rubbish. Kevin Sizemore’s Jeff does not find a backbone until after Jordan gets concussed, before that incident, leaving his teenage daughter to run the household. Gregory Alan Williams’ Thomas, Jordan’s actual father, shows no redeemable qualities until they leave to go on their long horse trip!
Caleb Castille’s Jordan turns out to be one of the most weak-minded would-be football stars ever, giving up at the slightest obstacle on both the relationship and his football dream.
The women are not much better. Candace West’s Kimani is shown as a person who feels almost entitled to the, apparently, one eligible black man in the town. Smith-Rodden’s Brooklyn is only in the film to warn against the possible trials of a mixed relationship and to say ‘I told you so’.
Rose Reid’s Lee is held up as a perfect character. All blonde-haired, with blue eyes, she is the Third Reich’s poster girl, except for her distasteful attraction to a black man. She is hard-working, loves children, looks after her family, her only failing being not knowing what she wants to do after school.
Written by Brian Baugh, Chris Dowling and George D. Escobar, with the story by Reid, which I can only guess is the reason for all of the horses, The World We Make is a half-hearted effort of film, committing only to making the horses look good.
That four people wrote this film is staggering to me. I am guessing that none of the writers are actually black or, on this effort, even know black people. Or people who are not white.
Baugh also directs, and truthfully, there is not much to write home about that either. The directing is not bad, it is just a little bland in a very made-for-television style. The music is very much in the same vein, neither good nor noticeably bad.
The acting is not good. I am not sure if it is the script or the directing, but everyone is very wooden and obviously acting. The chemistry between the two leads is passable, even if Reid’s height is noticeable in some scenes. She is a tall girl.
Scoring a paltry four on IMDB, The World We Make, on my obligatory second viewing, is bad because of a lack of commitment to the premise.
It is a film that you just do not know what it is trying to say or who it is for. The World We Make is truly poor. The most positive thing I can say about the film is that it did elicit some emotion in me; anger. Avoid.