Fortunately, film and cinema remain perfect tools to unite audiences with stories that help us learn about ourselves, about our world, and provides us with beautiful art that shows us the stories in so many different ways. This time, Signs of Love is a meticulous exercise that portrays the reality in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, where this story takes place. Fuller succeeds in narrating people's lives within a challenging social context. But beyond that, the film successfully eschews American clichés and examines the possibilities of life's opportunities.
Starring real-life siblings Hopper Jack Penn (Flag Day), Dylan Penn (Flag Day, Elvis & Nixon), and daughter and mother Zoë Bleu and Rosanna Arquette (The L Word, Ratched, Crash), along with Cree Kawa and Wass Stephens, Signs of Love depicts the life of Frankie, a young man from North Philadelphia, who dreams of a better life and is responsible for the welfare of his father, sister and nephew. He deals drugs in a place where crime is the order of the day. He is a good soul who suddenly meets Jane, a deaf girl, with whom he falls in love; a character who embodies the projection of a better future, a decent life. Frankie and Jane relationship breaks the class barrier and renders love as the turning point of the film; learning to love oneself by falling in love with another person.
Clarence Fuller's background elevates the tone and style of the film; his experience in advertising and music videos comes through in the editing, but also in the language of the images. As the film unfolds, one can see how Frankie is constantly giving back to his community as he grapples with internal thoughts about the context in which he finds himself. The concept of one's own destiny (beyond the physical) is present throughout the film, and Fuller uses his skill to show the culture of the lives of young people who have almost nothing to survive on. The music accompanies the film's moments of reflection so subtly (the soundtrack is on the nose), and the director pauses at times to signify hope as an element present throughout the environment (that shot of the cherry blossom).
The official poverty rate in 2021 in the US was 11.6%, with 37.9 million people in poverty. You have to see this film to understand the social climate we live in, and how it affects young people's access to a respectable life. Frankie's life is the life of millions of people, in many ways. One of the best things about Fuller's film is that it doesn't romanticise the poetics of life on the streets, but rather generates reflections on it by telling a story that traverses the dark surface to find the end that meets the light. More than a depiction, Signs Of Love is an opportunity to grow as a part of society, a beautiful love story that begins with an unexpected spark in Frankie's life.