Based on the best-selling Japanese video game from Kadokawa Games — I had no idea of that when I watched — Root Letter is about Carlos (Danny Ramirez), a young man trying to reconnect with pen pal Sarah (Keana Marie) after she writes to tell him that she has killed someone. She’s since disappeared, so he travels to her hometown in an attempt to learn exactly what went down.
Directed by Sonja O’Hara and written by David Ebeltoft, this movie deals with some very real issues: Carlos has lost his mother to deportation and his father isn’t in the picture while Sarah has raised herself thanks to having a mother with opioid addiction. However, once she decides to join her friends Caleb and Jackson in selling the drugs, even worse things start to happen.
What started as a grade school assignment to write letters has turned into a friendship and something to look forward to. When those letters stop, Carlos doesn’t notice at first until he gets one last letter that turns his friend’s existence into a problem that he must solve.
What we’re left with is a mystery and a question: how much do we really know anybody, even if we’ve shared the intimacy of written words with one another?
Root Letter is available in select theaters and on demand.