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This is a first effort (by the director), an adapted play and a film about racism. Many films crumble under the weight of one of those components. Its adaptation isn't 100% successful, but once you've adjusted to the pacing and dialogue of a play, it works really well. The quality of filming and direction is great for a pro, impressive for a first. Sound was the real let-down here. I'm inclined to believe that this was the fault of the DVD I'd rented (which simply has the film--no menu, no trailer) because everything else was done to such high standards. If the film hadn't been as good as it was it would have been frustrating to keep the remote in hand, turning it up to 30 one second, then down to 15 the next, then up to 23, then down to 12... I don't think that the two lead actors' roles could have been done, or been directed, any better.
As a white suburbanite, I often feel insulted or beaten over the head by anything dealing with racism, Spike Lee included. I don't think that I'm giving anything away here by saying that the racism is nearly undetectable in the beginning, yet crescendoes so subtly that one is nearly neck-deep in it before realising that it's there. There is no cheap 'down with whitey' theme here. There are none of the increasingly common idiotic white jokes or parodies that would start race riots if reversed. It's an honest portrayal of two high school students, well done in every respect.
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