Ghetto Rhapsody is an independent feature released through the First Rites video series, which releases films by first time directors. That director here is Darrel Simien, who's got much more talent than Kevin Smith. This film might draw comparisons to Smith's "Clerks" by those with no eye for composition, because it early on it features lots of hipster talk and black and white photography. But Simien actually has a clue where to place the camera and how to get natural performances out of the actors. "Ghetto Rhapsody" is way more ambitious than "Clerks", which is not a good thing. The problem is the script, which suffers from the "dummy-plot" syndrome... the story advanced only because some central characters are really stupid. Maybe that would be okay if they were written as fools, but, while they aren't necessarily supposed to be too bright, that isn't the case. The script offers a turning point where the central character does something so ludicrous, but the script doesn't offer any kind of motivation... even when another character later asks "why?" the dude just sits there looking like a fool. It's absolutely maddening, and there simply is no reason for anyone to continue caring about this guy. Not that every character in a film needs to act smartly and morally, but a script must provide motivation and attempt to make the audience understand why the character failed. It's too bad, because the film has got some nice acting and chemistry from the two leads. But the sloppy writing just kills it. Maybe the director will learn next time.
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