Star-studded, romantic comedy, North of the 10 will hold your attention for the full length of the film. From the minute the film begins, there are laughs on laughs as we meet five friends hustling together to make their dreams come true as a team.
Every one of them has individual visions and goals. Levon acts, Cameron models, Mike cooks, Shane dances, and Brandon creates video games. On the surface, it seems that they’ll never be able to meet their goals. Some are immature, others procrastinating, or letting others determine their worth, but because of their tight knit bond as brothers in their one-bedroom apartment in Chicago, they persevere. There are some wins and losses but what never changes is their brotherhood.
This first theme of friendship is amazing to see as the film explores their experiences. 4 of the 5 friends are Black, and the typical narrative of Black men, especially as a collective, isn’t often positive. This film moves that narrative towards the positive side of the pendulum instead. They laugh, they joan each other, they tell each other the whole truth in a way only a true friend can, and it’s all out of love. Each wants the others to succeed. It’s a powerful message of how important your” grown up” village is. Many still believe it takes a village to raise a child, but no one really talks about or depicts what happens to that child once they hit 18 and move out. They are adults, which can be so lonely and terrifying sometimes. But that’s what friends and new family dynamics are for. Between 20 and 30, the most memorable experiences are between you and your best friends and/or significant other, which brings up the next theme of the film – love.
This project showed a cross-cultural love story between Cameron and Nefertari. They meet at an entertainment industry party then fall for each other as the movie progresses. We see the sweet talks all night, the overexertion of Cam trying to impress his new lady, and the inevitable disgruntlement of Nef’s traditional Arabic dad who made a successful business career from Syria to Abu Dhabi. What seems like two worlds colliding is a sweet, romantic moment sprinkled throughout the middle of the movie while the brothers continue trying to make their dreams happen. As the movie hits its climax, Cameron, who was working so hard to become that ”it” model and make it big, begins shifting his priority as he falls deeper in love with Nef. Everything seems to fall into place until the inevitable movie moment when it all comes crashing down.
It’s not a romance until someone messes up or thinks the other messed up, which is exactly what happens to Cam as he steals his big model moment and Nef comes down with all the fury of a woman scorned over a misunderstanding. Cam is left with the butt hurt face of confusion, and Nef flies back home to Abu Dhabi heartbroken and embarrassed because everyone saw what Cam “did.”
In a bit of a turn, the movie has a short-lived, comedic moment showcasing the ridiculousness of reality TV, which I won’t spoil. You just have to watch, but it comes back down to the “real” when Cam flies with his boys to Abu Dhabi to get his girl back. While it seems Cam may not get his dream girl back at first glance, the team starts seeing some success when Levon finds inspiration in documenting all their adventures halfway across the world, which brings the final theme of the movie – social media influence.
The boys chronicle every up and down as they travel through Abu Dhabi making memories, having fun, and showcasing their individual passions. They grow a following by being their authentic selves, and things feel promising, like all their hard work and grinding is being well received by thousands, soon to be millions. All the while the boys are celebrating, Cam still is unfulfilled without Nef by his side. Levon posts a video of Cam expressing his love for Nef and owning up to any wrong he did which eventually reaches her.
Side note: there is an amazing Easter egg at this point in the film because Don Benjamin, who plays Cameron in the film, had his real-life wife, Liane V., play the friend to Nef, the onscreen love of his life. Talk about cute coincidences.
As Nef realizes her love may be genuine and worth the fight, something terrible happens when she confronts her parents about Cam. Just when it seems this happily ever after might not happen, the stars align, cultures merge, and Cam proposes to Nef with her father’s blessing.
This film is full of ups and downs, authentically mimicking what it means to be a creator (and young adult, really). It shows everything it really takes to grind, hustle, and stay focused on your vision even when it seems the world isn’t listening or caring about you. It showcases how important genuine friendships are – not the lighthearted, fun ones, but the real ones when they can make you laugh and call you out on your BS, too. Throw in love and it’s a beautiful mess of emotions and bonds that are amazing to witness unfold on screen. The cherry on top are all the cameos and bits of pure comedy that many will enjoy. This film has it all and can keep going if the right people back it up. It wouldn’t be surprising if this movie turned into a regular TV show on BET+ or any stream service. It would be worth the wait and watch so watch out for future mentions of North of the 10!