O.G. is a quiet, methodical piece that deliberately avoids high drama, electing instead for contemplation on the nature of justice, rehabilitation, and recidivism. Jeffrey Wright stars in O.G. as Louis, a felon who has been serving time in prison for nearly 25 years and is within weeks of his release. He is more nervous about this than he would like anyone to know.
The world has changed since he went to prison. He doesn't sense a particularly bright future for himself on the outside, as his social worker and parole officer both seem unable to help him secure work, and his parole prohibits him from leaving the state of Indiana, effectively cutting him off from his son and granddaughter in California.
Most of all, he subconsciously feels that maybe he doesn't deserve to be released, emotions we see briefly surface as he engages in restorative justice with the sister of the man he killed, one of the few times in the film that Wright allows us access to his character's emotional state.
He avoids thinking about all of this by taking a new prisoner under his wing, a young man that he undoubtedly sees himself in, and tries to provide guidance that will help him avoid getting caught up in prison politics the way that he did. In a way, this also feels like his legacy -- his way of leaving something positive behind once he's gone.
Jeffrey Wright puts in a nuanced and multifaceted performance, creating a complicated character who seems mature and determined to make positive choices while at the same time resorting to bluster and posturing when he feels cornered or challenged.
We see both the man that he wants to be, the person who has learned from his time in prison and wants to come out the better for it, but also the man whose violent experiences on the street have been compounded by the highly tense and frequently hostile prison atmosphere.
Equally impressive is Wright's co-star Theothus Carter, who plays the young con Beecher. One of the several actors in the film who were actually serving time at the prison where O.G. was shot (more on that later), Carter brings a compelling realism to a character who has nothing left to him but bad options to survive, and whose delicate features stand in contrast to the hardness he is forced to project.
One of the most interesting elements of this film is the journey the filmmakers went on to get it made. Director Madeleine Sackler knew from the beginning that she wanted to shoot the film entirely in a prison, using inmates and guards as extras. This was something that had never been done before on this scale, and she was met with a number of challenges during pre-production and the tight twenty four day shooting schedule at Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana. But the end result is a remarkably authentic film that takes an honest and unflinching look at the reality of the American prison system.