“I want to lead an important life, I want to do it because I was born a human being.” This powerful line from The Five Rules of Success by writer-director Orson Oblowitz perfectly encompasses the point of the film, where X (Santiago Segura), an ex-convict recently released on parole, decides to take matters into his own hands and attempts to regain his autonomy by crafting a path to success in a society that is designed against him.

X is reminded by his parole officer that he is simply a prisoner on vacation, as a way to beat him down and extinguish any of his aspirations; Oblowitz, who is also the cinematographer in this film, makes a lot of interesting camera choices that really enhance this idea. At the start of the film, the camera follows X from behind, his face shrouded from the viewer until he is finally released from prison. The utilisation of the camera filming him from behind, not only at the onset of the film, but for many scenes throughout, makes it seem like he is always being observed by an unseen presence even when he is alone, a representation of how he is constantly monitored and unable to do anything without consent. 

The Five Rules of Success shows the reality in the United States that even after prisoners are released after having served their time, they never truly regain freedom. They instead face a harsh world that does everything it can to ensure their failure. 

This is a film that is a hard watch, but necessary all the same. The ending hits you like a punch to the gut, and sends a clear message to viewers that the system remains unfair towards people like X, yet rewards those in power who are ultimately no different.



CAST: Isidora Goreshter, Roger Guenveur Smith, Jonathan Howard, Santiago Segura, Jon Sklaroff

DIRECTOR: Orson Oblowitz

WRITERS: Orson Oblowitz, Christian de Gallegos

SYNOPSIS: An ex-convict overcomes tragedy by designing his own path to success within the same society that failed him.