July 9, 2018  (Web Review)

Mighty Ground

(2018) 83 min. DVD: $14.95. Random Media (avail. from www.amazon.com).

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Filmmaker Delila Vallot’s documentary serves up a dramatic example of becoming clean and sober after decades of drug addiction. Largely shot in Los Angeles’s Skid Row neighborhood, where homeless people line the sidewalks, the film is a portrait of Ronald Troy Collins, a middle-aged man who began smoking crack cocaine at the age of 13. Succumbing to the drug’s hold, which robbed him of the remarkable life he might have enjoyed as a very fine soul singer, this upbeat survivor tries to get by every day by approaching strangers with a smile and literally singing for his supper. Mighty Ground details some cringeworthy aspects of life on the street, including the diseases that shoeless people can pick up on a dirty sidewalk—sometimes leading to amputation. But the narrative pivots when Collins meets some passersby who take an interest in him and his voice, offering their determined support to pull him out of his personal hell. The second half of the documentary captures the miraculous results, with the cleaned-up Collins emerging as a very different man from the one earlier introduced: passionate about his voice, but also level-headed, expansive, and generous toward others. An inspiring portrait of a jazz-soul tenor who should have been a star but now gets an overdue chance at success, this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh)