While we liberal-minded Southern Californians cast the ubiquitous Midwest aside as mere “flyover country,” independent filmmakers may be its only friend. Steel City is the first film from director Brian Jun, who uses his real-life hometown of Alton, Ill. as the film’s gritty exterior, adding an additional layer of authenticity to an already faithful depiction of a crumbling family in small town America.

PJ (Thomas Guiry) is the overly confident son of Carl Lee (John Heard), who’s awaiting trial for his involvement in a fatal car accident. Already damaged by his father’s incarceration, PJ’s life seems to spiral out of control.

The pressures of his situation nearly cause PJ to accept defeat. But like his friends and neighbors, he, too, is a fighter. The Midwest would accept nothing less.

Grade: B+

Steel City is currently available.