This is a Romeo and Juliet type tale based in Detroit, Michigan. Two young men, Zack, a white teen accused of "acting black" and Dee, an African American teen, defy racial lines and form a strong friendship. When Zack begins dating Dee's cousin Nikki, his white friends presume he's seeing her because of sexual stereotypes about black women, while her black friends can't believe her interest in him. Additional conflict is added when Nut, a local black gang-banger pursues Nikki for himself and undisguised but contained racial tensions in their respective neighborhoods and the high school they all attend erupt in violence.Written by
This is a tight film. In fact, except for perhaps the last 20 minutes, the film is near-perfect. Michael Rapaport is absolutely excellent in the lead role, the best role I've seen him in, save Higher Learning. And N'Bush Wright and DeShonn Castle were also excellent in their parts. Ron Johnson was convincing as the aptly named 'Nut' as well. The film was heartfelt, with enough light attitude to balance the darker and more serious side.
The few issues I had were: The Kevin Corrigan 'I live in industrial Detroit and look what those evil companies have done to the neighborhood' scenes were completely unnecessary. They had nothing to do with the film except perhaps looking cool. We already know from the setting and characters that it's not exactly pretty and that it's a rundown neighborhood. Also, Zach's father was a little too lucid with Zach, especially concerning his own sexual prowess/conquests. he *is* still the boy's father. Also, the last 20 minutes were overdoing it. Until then time flew by, the film is very close to air-tight for the first hour and twenty, but then it started to drag. The film had pretty much said it all, we didn't need the whole premise explained to us as though we were mindless.
This is *not* another Jungle Fever, nor is it another Higher Learning; which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it's a separate entity, it stands well on its own and deals with a too-familiar situation with originality and strong acting performances. Bad because the script could have been tighter; even though it was very well scripted, there were some scenes that didn't need to be there, others which could have been written better. The cinematography was also lacking; this film could have been shot with much more gusto, even without being fancy.
Overall: Considering this is a low-budget film with no-name actors (at the time, at least) and little other than Oliver Stone's name to back it, it does a damn fine job. There are improvements that would have helped, but its strong enough to stand on its own...better than many major films can. It's not as good as the aforementioned Jungle Fever or Higher Learning, but in a way its more raw in a good way. If it wasn't so preachy and if it was about 10-20 minutes shorter (with a better conclusion) it would easily rate and eight or nine. As it stands: 7/10.
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