Life and Nothing More

Life and Nothing More ★★★½

Regina (Regina Williams), a black North Florida waitress living somewhere below the poverty line, snaps at her 14-year-old son, Andrew (Andrew Bleechington), after he’s been arrested for at least the second time: “This is your life you’re fucking up, not mine!” It’s one of the only lies that she tells in Antonio Méndez Esparza’s “Life and Nothing More,” an elliptical and documentary-like drama that’s endowed with sober honesty in almost every scene.

For better or worse, Regina’s hardscrabble existence is inextricably intertwined with that of her teenage child, and that of the kid’s incarcerated father, and — to a certain extent — even that of a new love interest named Robert (Robert Williams), an unambiguously interested stranger who first hits on Regina while she’s at work. She’s the nucleus of an unstable cell in a hostile body, forced to manage her own problems and find the support she needs while also trying to raise her son in a racist system that turns black men against each other and tears black families apart.