Lackawanna Blues

Lackawanna Blues


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Ruben Santiago-Hudson and George C Wolfe have created a film that will warm even the hardest of hearts. S Epatha Merkerson is outstanding in the central role of Rachel "Nanny" Crosby, a New York boarding house owner in the Fifties and Sixties, whose generous spirit touches everyone who lives there.

Junior (Hill Harper) tells the story of his upbringing - from the night he entered the world in one of Nanny's rooms - with superb acting from Marcus Carl Franklin, as his younger self. Nanny is "like the government... if it really worked" and with parents Ruben (Jimmy Smits) and Alean (Carmen Ejogo) unable to cope with the responsibilities a child brings, he finds a surrogate in her and the odd collection of boarders she has taken in, whose tales of hardship and triumph in adversity come to have a profound effect on his life.

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Adapted from Santiago-Hudson's award-winning autobiographical play, it takes the transition to the big screen in its stride. Bursting at the seams with talented performers, no one misses a beat, conjuring up an atmosphere so vivid, you can taste it.

Wolfe has created a warm and gentle movie, full of energy and life. You'll soon forget the blues - this colour palette is as vibrant as the personalities. Quick cuts between scenes stitch the boarding house residents' stories together, giving a sense of the whole without dwelling on any single individual. The direction, like the Lackawanna Blues, has a toe-tapping rhythm that just begs you to step up and join the dance.

It is a real celebration of the black communities of the time and doesn't shy away from the question of what happened when segregation came to an end. Touching, without being cloying, there is a mix of drama, romance and comedy that perfectly hits its mark.

Reviewed on: 26 Jan 2005
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A celebration of the black communities in New York during the Fifties and Sixties.
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Director: George C Wolfe

Writer: George C Wolfe, based on a play by Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Starring: S Epatha Merkerson, Jimmy Smits, Carmen Ejogo, Marcus Carl Franklin, Mos Def, Louis Gossett Jnr, Macy Gray, Hill Harper, Terrence Dashon Howard, Ernie Hudson, Delroy Lindo, Rosie Perez, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Live Schreiber, Henry Simmons, Patricia Wettig

Year: 2005

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: US


Sundance 2005

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