Romeo Misses a Payment: Film Review

This undeniably provocative documentary is too rough-hewn to make its case in a fully-convincing fashion.

Angelo Lobo's documentary makes an impassioned argument about the unfairness of America's divorce system.

As he informs us early on in his debut documentary, Angelo Lobo is a twice-divorced single dad who has had more than his share of problems with child custody and support issues. But rather than just grousing to his friends, he’s made Romeo Misses a Payment, a rough-hewn but provocative effort exploring an issue that will prove increasingly relevant as divorce rates continue to skyrocket.

Shot over the course of several years, the film is an impassioned indictment of the unfairness of the family law court system and its particular discrimination against low-income, non-custodial parents. Lobo buttresses his argument with interviews with attorney, judges, law enforcement officers and, of course, many single parents who claim to have been treated unfairly.

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Unfortunately, the tyro filmmaker lacks the finesse to make his case in particularly thoughtful or cogent fashion. Running only 66 minutes, the film doesn’t have the room to examine its subject matter in depth, and even then, time is wasted with such sequences as when the young patrons of Scottsdale’s “Deadbeats Bar & Grill” are given the opportunity to deliver facile observations on the topic.    

Lobo is prone to cinematic hyperbole, frequently rewinding or stopping the film so that he can deliver his own acerbic responses to an interviewee’s comments. He also unfortunately compares a locked-up deadbeat dad on a hunger strike to Mahatma Gandhi.

Still, there are many compelling issues discussed, such as the problems facing active military servicemen who find themselves unable to make child support payments because of sudden cuts in pay. There’s also no shortage of drama attendant to the subject matter, as the news footage detailing suicides and shootings involving disgruntled men caught up in child custody and payment cases well illustrates.

(Aginelo Entertainment)
Production: Aginelo Film
Director/producer: Angelo Lobo
Director of photography: Jake Rose
Editor: Matthew Jones
Composer: Scott Starret
Not rated, 66 min.