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Shoot the Messenger (2006)

 -  Drama  -  26 April 2006 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 175 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 5 critic

Shoot The Messenger follows one man's painful journey towards self-discovery. On the way he finds both his own attitudes and the expectations of his community challenged.

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Shoot The Messenger follows one man's painful journey towards self-discovery. On the way he finds both his own attitudes and the expectations of his community challenged.

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26 April 2006 (USA)  »

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Hear the message
30 August 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

As can be seen from some of the comments posted here, there are plenty of people intent on 'shooting the messenger', rather than listen to the message itself. In this case, the message happens to be the questioning of blame-culture which exists among certain sections of the black community. It is the contention of the author (Sharon Foster, herself a black writer) that it is this culture, and not that which is being blamed (ie white people), which is the cause of black underachievement. It is a serious argument, and one that can withstand close scrutiny, but that hasn't stopped the usual suspects from using their lazy cries of 'Racism' to try and silence the debate. A similar point was made during the film itself and it is interesting that many of the same terms of abuse used to castigate the main character in the film are identical to the ones being thrown around here (mainly by people who don't appear to have seen it). That would seem to indicate that Foster is, indeed, on to something.

Of course, this film could amount to no more than a 'worthy' drama, but 'Shoot The Messenger' is much more than that, due, in no small measure, to the quality of the writing. Foster has constructed an engrossing journey of self-discovery which begins with provocative words ( a gauntlet deliberately thrown in the face of the audience) uttered by Joe Pascale (excellently played by David Oyelowo), a well-intentioned but somewhat aloof black teacher, who falls foul of the authorities after he is accused of hitting a pupil. The fact that this is not true does not prevent him being vilified on a local black radio station. He loses the case in court and this leads him into a spiral of depression and madness, which he increasingly blames on black people (an interesting inversion of the blaming of white people which seems acceptable among his black contemporaries). I found this portion of the work the least satisfactory since the script sped over his insanity rather too quickly leading to loss of detail. After spending some time on the street, he is befriended by a middle-aged Black Christian lady. It is at this point the script really catches fire with some astute and occasionally hard-hitting views of the black community. All of this is maintained by a high degree of directorial energy and a high class cast. Highly recommended.


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