POETIC JUSTICE (1993)

poetjust

Written & Directed By: John Singleton
Cinematography: Peter Lyons Collister
Editor: Bruce Canon 

Cast: Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson, Regina King, Joe Torry, Maya Angelou, Q-tip, Tyra Ferrell, Khandi Alexander, Jenifer Lewis, Tone Loc, Ricky Harris, Clifton Collins Jr., Michael Rapaport, Lloyd Avery II, Robi Reed, Roger Gueneveur Smith, Yvette Wilson, Kimberly Brooks, Maia Campbell, Michael Colyar, Sarena Mobley, Lori Petty, Billy Zane 


After witnessing the murder of her first and only boyfriend, young Justice decides to forget about college and become a South Central Los Angeles hairdresser. Avoiding friends, the only way for her to cope with her depression is by composing beautiful poetry. On her way to a convention in Oakland, she is forced to ride with an independent-minded postal worker whom she has not gotten along with in the past. After various arguments between them and their friends, they start to discover that their thoughts on violence, socially and domestically, are the same. Justice may finally feel that she is not as alone as before.

This feels like a follow up as it is ambitious while still trying to be subtle. Even though it feels heavy handed at times. It’s a bit of a romance film about a sensitive tough guy trying to make something of himself thrown into an uncomfortable romance. Where two characters dislike but learn to like one another. So a road trip romance that takes on a lot of subjects all around them especially subjects in the black community.

Regina King and Joe Torry are funny comic reliefs though they represent part of the problems of young couples. Though they also come more to a more melodramatic end.

Janet Jackson’s performance is like the film as she Tries too hard to make an impression that only half the time does she come off as natural also the film feels over written as there is a film here but at times it also feels like a melodramatic statement.

Where it does feel like John Singleton is trying to try to do a dramatic follow up to his first film that is a little lighter in terms of material. Something sweeter and a more conventional cinematic story filling it with issues and themes. Slip them in to try to make the film stronger, modern and important that speaks to the audience and represents characters we rarely see in this type of story and actually be in the middle of the story.

All the inner monologues feels a bit much at times.

Which he has done once again with his films BABY BOY and HIGHER LEARNING. Not so much the more commercial visual stylist action features. That feel more for hire jobs then original’s as he didn’t write them or feel any passion in.

This was a change of heart john singleton’s sophomore film. That sought to try to be a kind of west coast spike lee film. Showing California in it’s glory and gritty. While making a modern black romantic drama. It’s a change as their are very few of those films made, sure plenty of urban romantic comedies that seem to focus more on sex and then romance. This film though it majorly takes place over one day tries to show more a burgeoning urban romance without going all sappy or over the top. Though quick at least or feels more natural and realistic.

Again Tupac Shakur got another opportunity to show his more romantic and sensitive side here. Playing a decent man trying to do right and raise a daughter. He comes off not exactly as a gentleman, but better than any other men in the film.

I like that the film doesn’t make any I the lead characters perfect. There is a little to like and dislike in them all. Though of course the leads coming out shining above the rest. I only wish there was more for them to worn with and impress the audience with.

The film takes on social issues in the black community as well as the love story that is rocky until near the end we not finally comes Into focus. With them bickering early on.

Joe Torry’s character seems to be a satire on make vanity and what supposedly it is to be tough.

Janet Jackson is ok in the role, but feels oddly miscast like she is a little to old to play the part. She tries her hardest though. The film shows that singer on was trying something new and different challenging himself, though he didn’t have a set style yet. I applaud him for his attempt. That seems simple and rather thin for the way I is presented. Singleton has always had more of a studio director style of shooting while maintaining that budgets that feel out of place in this film. When he makes more blockbuster type films they seem right.

There is a message that seems to be trying To come out of this film, by it’s hard to read. Though luckily the theme is clear.

Grade: B-

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