Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"Williams is a natural actor of considerable charm." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Poetry in the ghetto, love behind bars, this award-winning film wants it all - the grit-grained street style of real life TV crime shows and Hollywood's insistence on a charismatic star performance.

Ray Joshua (Saul Williams) is no Washington punk rapper, with more attitude than sense. He's a quiet, still voice in the uproar of violent gang war, who is arrested while trying to help a wounded friend.

The only good thing about prison is teacher Lauren's (Sonja Sohn) writing class. They hit it off. He's the only attractive young Black man, for a start, and she's a sexy, outward, positive woman.

Someone pays his bail. A lawyer advises pleading guilty and accepting a shorter sentence. He knows he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that is all. What you are and how others see you are two different things. Truth is a privilege, not a right.

Marc Levin is a documentary maker, which explains the haphazard plotline. He uses improvisation and a handheld camera, emphasising the injustice of poverty. As for the feel-good principle, you have Ray's romance with Lauren and the concept of poetry as a lifeline. Williams is a natural actor of considerable charm. He makes sensitivity a noble concept.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2007
Share this with others on...
Slam packshot
Sundance award winner about poetry in the ghetto and love behind bars.
Amazon link

Director: Marc Levin

Writer: Marc Levin, Sonja Sohn, Bonz Malone, Richard Stratton, Saul Williams

Starring: Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn, Bonz Malone, Beau Sia, Lawrence Wilson, Andre Taylor

Year: 1998

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database: