The Test (2024)
The Test (2024)

Genre: Short and Documentary Running Time: 16 min.

Release Date: February 25th, 2024 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Claudia Myers, Laura Waters Hinson Actors: Eric Frimpong, Jill Miller, Carl Miller

 


 

“I

haven’t seen my wife and my children … eight years now,” says Eric Frimpong, a maintenance worker at the Goodwin House in Alexandria, Virginia, which cares for the elderly. It’s an absolutely crushing statement, despite the fact that he’s able to sporadically talk to them over the phone. It’s far from perfect, however; the network is faulty, frequently breaking up the connection. Eric can’t go back to his home republic of Ghana without becoming an American citizen, which means that he’ll have to pass the daunting citizenship exam, which poses a disconcerting 114 questions.

After having lost his business and customers in Africa, Eric made the difficult decision to come to America for a chance at a job that would allow him to bring his family to the States. At the Goodwin House, he waters flowers, takes out trash, clears the exterior grounds, and services machines and appliances – all sorts of handyman work that has endeared him to the residents there. Jill Miller is one such client at the retirement community, who offers her time to Eric to help him prepare for the citizenship test, several months before he’s scheduled to appear at the USCIS building.

In other cultures, the aging are highly revered and respected, often taken into their family’s homes to be cared for in their later years. “You don’t find that so much here in the United States.” It’s undoubtedly ironic that as his career aids these somewhat forgotten folks in living out their lives with some contentment and dignity, his own happiness will hinge on an arbitrary mode of judgment that, almost certainly, a great deal of existing citizens of the U.S. couldn’t pass themselves. Knowing the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution just doesn’t seem like an item of utmost necessity in order to officially reside in America (though many of the other topics are surely worth memorizing).

Though Eric’s story isn’t extraordinary – it is, in fact, a rather routine representation of an immigrant’s mission and plight – it’s nonetheless touching, offering up an opportunity to demonstrate and reiterate the significant hurdles encountered by so many people striving to find a better life for themselves and their families by traveling to the U.S. Eric’s particular scenario is amplified by the filmmakers’ efficiency with camerawork, editing, music, and other technical elements; “The Test” boasts a sharp, clear design to match its focused, unadorned subject matter – a wise choice for a short film. It serves primarily as a reminder of realistic tribulations (something that natural born citizens likely give little attention to), even if it may not have much lasting power for anyone who has seen similarly-themed productions, fiction and documentaries alike.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10