My America: Season 1, Episode 5

Not (En) Titled (28 Sep. 2012)

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28 September 2012 (USA)  »

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1.5: Not (En)titled by Anna Deavere Smith: Heartfelt
7 September 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It takes a few minutes of the film to get into the character because at first their talk while staring out a window is not clear as to its meaning; this continues but soon we get fragments where we quickly start to understand that this is a Principle of a school who is writing a letter to the parents of the children in her care. From here we start to understand why the letter is being written and it puts in context the writer's meandering thoughts, his frustration and ultimately the point of despair that this letter and too many like it has caused him to reach.

To say more than this would not ruin it but I do not need to add to what the film already does very well, which is to capture a feeling. Okay we have a specific character in a specific situation writing a letter following a specific event, but the script captures the many frustrations and failures before this point – not in that person, but in the community as a whole and we see them come through that person. We get the feeling of the effort and sacrifice poured into a community and the ever present reality that, while not effort wasted, it is certainly not one filled with the reward and results one might have hoped, as things seem to be getting worse. The parents, the mayor, the police, the teachers – all of them have a part and yet things keep getting worse.

It is forcefully written and very well delivered by Henderson, because he convinces in his words, delivering a heartfelt and impassioned piece from Smith. The only downside of the film is that it is so much written in Smith's voice that it is hard to sometimes not hear her behind them – not to take away from Henderson though. I liked the conclusion of the film as it does rather sum up the lack of conversation on such matters – another thing feeding into the frustration. It makes the point without overly hammering it home and it plays it out convincingly through a good character – a very engaging and heartfelt piece.


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