Directed By: Rashid Johnson
Written By: Suzan Lori-Parks
Based on the Novel By: Richard Wright
Cinematography: Matthew Libatique
Editor: Brad Turner
Cast: Ashton Sanders, Kiki Layne, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, David Alan Grier, Sanaa Lathan, Lamar Johnson
A young African-American living in Chicago enters into a seductive new world of money and power after he is hired as a chauffeur for an affluent businessman.
The film is strongly directed, designed and stylish. That tries to do with a subtle and understate translation of the material.
The film manages to do so much with what seems so little. That it does pack an impact even if not as broad or message filled as the material it is based upon. Here it seems more internalized, cerebral and staged. Instead of shouting out it’s message and meanings. Making it quietly powerful.
The film makes the lead not such a sad sack and self hateful but an obvious outsider. Who is obviously smart and then the act that destroys everything feels far fetched in the film but still powerfully filmed and felt.
While modernizing the material it still has hints of the time it was written and set in the classic novel. Still making points about African American culture and youth that still holds true today in certain aspects.
The temptation of the streets where being smart isn’t enough. Want to be seen as equal and all around you caucasians say they are down and fight for you, but never Quite treat you as normal or run of the mill. They are cool with you but all of a sudden use slang and want you as their guide and their into your neighborhood believe you are able to get them illegal contraband. So still you are kind of subservience or treated that way.
The main character chooses to show and illustrate his interests in his dressing setting himself apart to be an outsider and individual which seems to help a bit when it comes to the caucasians he comes into contact with. Though once In Trouble he becomes to be thought of as just another of his race with all the same negative stereotypes rather than just an individual.
Like the character never quite opens up but is vivid in it’s own surroundings both characters so full of life and promise. As well as prospects. How one act ruins it all. Their natural attraction and her constant flirting. If their friendship and interactions, though once she is finally discovered dead. Her family and the world naturally think because he burned the body he must have raped her.
It just feels a little out of character for such a smart character to make such continuous stupid decisions.
At least we get to kind of see the character and his interests. Even if not entirely his motives or dreams. As he more exists with no real plans but as his girlfriend says earlier he’s Different and a wild card.
Ashton Sanders is powerful in his simmering performance where he comes alive in his scenes with a quiet interest. Where you can’t take your eyes off of him on screen. As he is unpredictable and you can’t even figure out what he is thinking. Not to mention love his characters wardrobe.
The film offers a more operatic treatment even if the scale is small. As it also feels more artistic like a painting rather then more a slice of life.
Kiki Layne does well In her supporting role that she is almost unrecognizable from her role in IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, but her character is in another doomed romance.
Margaret Qualley makes the most In her few scenes. As her character is full of life a liberal trouble maker. Who doesn’t seem to know the consequences of some of her actions.