Director Spike Lee
Starring Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee
Film *** Extras *
In a decade when black voices in film were pretty much restricted to Pimp, Coke Dealer or Car-jacker No. 2, Spike Lee's black-and-white debut blew a king-sized hole in Hollywood's racial divide through which other talent could follow. So it's significant. But is it any good?
Well, Spike's script - about Brooklyn artist Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) and her three lovers (including Lee's wisecracking Mars) who jostle jealously for her affections - crackles with energy and sex, Ernest Dickerson's camerawork is fluid and assured and the smoky score sets a laconic rhythm. But Lord have mercy, the overwrought thesping is abysmal - some of it would embarrass a piss-poor am-dram production. Maybe harsh in the knowledge that Spike's cash deprivation restricted him to one take, but it still leaves the film hobbling only a few paces ahead of a student effort.
The absence of extras, though, is a shame. Couldn’t we have at least been told whatever happened to Camilla Johns?