PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez are grief-stricken mothers in "Lila and Eve," which premiered Friday night at the Sundance Film Festival.
Lila Wolcott (Davis) is broken when her 18-year-old son is gunned down in the street — an innocent victim in the wrong place at the wrong time. At a support group for parents of murdered children, she finds a kindred spirit in Eve (Lopez), who's more interested in getting justice than talking through her problems.
While the local police established a task force to find the killer of a blond-haired cheerleader, Lila's son is among dozens of young black men caught in the drug-trade crossfire.
"They don't even see us," Eve says.
She and Lila start their own investigation, which gradually becomes more like a revenge mission. As the two women delve deeper into their search for the boy's killer, Lila begins to lose herself in increasingly risky behavior.
The leader of the support group warns: "The grief of your loss can be so debilitating it can cloud your judgment."
Grief motivates the two women to become vigilantes, and an unexpected twist in the story shows just how deep their pain runs.
Davis, who is also a producer of the film, said she was drawn to the role because it brings to light something rarely discussed in violent American culture: How do parents whose children have been killed move on?
"I thought it was a really honest depiction of the emotional journey that a parent would go through after having a child who was murdered," Davis said. "It didn't feel sensationalized to me. It felt real."
She said the film is homage to these surviving parents.
"We hear about murdered children all the time; and we see the pictures or the news reports of the parents and they cry and then it's over. You don't see them anymore," she said. "They're just forgotten. This film to me was a film that said: Where are they and what are they going through and what is their daily torture like?"
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .