(out of 5)
A gay black man (Anthony Mackie) struggles to be accepted, dealing with the racial prejudices of those who are not like him, and the intolerance of those who are. He is given a new sense of perspective when he befriends one of the men who live at the homeless shelter where he works, a man who turns out to be (a fictionalized version of) author Bruce Nugent (Roger Robinson). Nugent spins wonderful tales of his youth during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, when he lived in “Niggeratti Manor” with the likes of Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman and Zora Neale Hurston, the group of them plying their authorial trade (including an attempt to start the magazine Fire! that resulted in only one issue) while enjoying all the connubial delights of the city. In present day, Mackie begins a love affair with a college student that could be the answer to the acceptance he is looking for, but as time progresses it begins to appear that he’s going to have to search a lot deeper. Wonderful characters and terrific performances almost compensate for an abrupt ending that doesn’t properly tie up all of its strands, but it’s still worth seeing since movies about being black and gay, particularly ones that deal with the past, happen far too rarely. One cannot help but lament that there wasn’t a bigger budget possible that could have really made the Harlem scenes zing with more life.
Directed by Rodney Evans
Screenplay by Rodney Evans
Cinematography by Harlan Bosmajian
Production Design by Ernesto Solo
Costume Design by Sarah Beers
Film Editing by Sabine Hoffman