Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1998. Touchstone Pictures, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks. Screenplay by Spike Lee. Cinematography by Ellen Kuras, Malik Hassan Sayeed. Produced by Jon Kilik, Spike Lee. Music by Alex Steyermark. Production Design by Wynn Thomas. Costume Design by Sandra Hernandez. Film Editing by Barry Alexander Brown.
Director Spike Lee’s characters are always so richly drawn, his films so marvelously outspoken and diversely dramatic that they are always worth watching even if they don’t hit the high points of his best work. Denzel Washington plays a convict who is offered the chance to shorten his sentence (for the murder of his wife) by convincing his nationally successful basketball playing son to attend the college of the state governor’s choice. He is given a week’s leave from prison (under heavy supervision) to re-enter his old neighbourhood in Coney Island and speak to his son (Ray Allen, who is excellent), which is going to be difficult considering his son hates his guts and doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. The process by which the characters resolve their differences doesn’t have anything earth-shattering you haven’t seen before (and the film could afford to be shorter), but you’ll be sucked into it before you even realize it.