In California, the Caucasian Chris Mattson and his African-American wife Lisa Mattson move to a house in a gated community. The racist and dysfunctional next-door neighbor is the abusive LAPD Officer Abel Turner who feels uncomfortable with the relationship of the newcomers and transforms their lives into Hell on Earth.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Probably the first movie about racism that doesn't just spout tired clichés.
We've all heard the "racism is evil!" thing preached, preached again, and then preached again. We get it: racism is bad. I'm not racist. I don't know anyone who is racist. Why does every single movie have to remind us of something we teach our children before they're old enough to talk? After I watched Hairspray and Be Kind Rewind in the past year alone, I officially had enough. And not only me. At the time, my best friend, who was born and raised in Africa then moved to the US, said the same thing: why can't movies just stop beating a pointless, dead, blood horse? If someone is racist, I doubt a movie is going to change their mind. Then, out of nowhere, Lakeview Terrace comes along and defies every cliché you thought you knew about racism movies. And that is really all I have to say about the topic: thank God that someone, anyone, in Hollywood gets that we're sick of being force-fed clichés. Why is Lakeview Terrace cliché-defying? It focuses on the gray aria of racism, not black-and-white. It focuses on racism held by blacks, not by whites. It veers so far from the "racism is evil!" standpoint, and makes you make up your own mind about the over-the-top plot and who was right, who was wrong. It's been so long since Hollywood actually let the audience make up their own mind, this is like a breath of fresh air.
Lakeview Terrace is labeled as a thriller, which is half true. The first half builds up the social boundaries of real life, testing them, and then building them up stronger. It doesn't jump straight to action, but soaks you in reality before plunging into the over-the-top ending. When the action starts, near the ending, it is really worth the weight because it has you in a state of social tension. Anyone who says this isn't realistic doesn't understand realistic human behavior. Even in the most outrageous parts of the film, there was not a single thing done by anyone that was hard for me to believe could happen in real life. Maybe that's because I have a lot of cops in my family, or maybe it's because I'm just more tuned into reality than the optimistic-happy-"Humans are perfect!" people that are reviewing this film and calling it unrealistic.
The directing, writing, and technical details are all fine. They're not artistic or "find cinema", but they're done in a way that makes the film work. The acting from Samuel L. Jackson is flawless. The casting from certain other characters is a little off, but it works out in the end.
Overall, I liked Lakeview Terrace a lot. I'm the kind of person who loves thrillers, but as I said, this really isn't a thriller as much as a drama with a thriller-like ending and some thriller-like scenes scattered throughout. It's a nice break from the unintelligent mess that has become an anti-racism subgenre, and a nice break from the intense hardcore horror and action movies I enjoy watching. With that said, it didn't bore me, which really surprised me. Lakeview Terrace isn't perfect, it's not a work of art, but it's intelligent. I found it very much worth watching.
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