2001, US, directed by Thomas Carter
Thomas Carter’s third feature constantly threatens to go somewhere interesting, particularly with regard to black-white relations, but at almost every turn the film backs away from the tough stories of the neighborhood where it is set in favour of the tale of a white girl getting her groove back. That story isn’t irrelevant – and it certainly makes for emotional highlights – but the choice of focus seems like a missed opportunity when there are bigger issues in the background.
It’s a shame, because the film has a fine young cast (Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas and Kerry Washington, the latter bringing some real fire to proceedings), and there’s great chemistry between Stiles and Thomas, especially in the warm, well-played scenes where he coaxes her into being just a little less uptight. The film feels as though it’s still something of a draft: while some sequences are expertly constructed, at other moments the film doesn't entirely cohere, while it makes poor use of the character of Roy (Terry Kinney), who plays Stiles’s father, and who might actually have something to teach her about the world in which she finds herself.