Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1997. Trimark Pictures, ChubbCo Film, Addis Wechsler Pictures. Screenplay by Kasi Lemmons. Cinematography by Amy Vincent. Produced by Caldecot Chubb, Samuel L. Jackson. Music by Terence Blanchard. Production Design by Jeffrey Howard. Costume Design by Karyn Wagner. Film Editing by Terilyn A. Shropshire. Independent Spirit Awards 1997. National Board of Review Awards 1997. Toronto International Film Festival 1997.
Stunning Southern Gothic atmosphere is the backbone of this lush family drama about a young girl (Jurnee Smollett) who grows up believing that she is responsible for the death of her father (Samuel L. Jackson). Director Kasi Lemmons (the actress who played Jodie Foster’s roommate in The Silence of the Lambs) recounts Smollett’s tale of jealousy, adultery and even a little voodoo witchcraft in a richly slow and deliberate fashion, carefully letting us into the lives of each of the characters and then turning the screws tight at the climax for maximum effect. Lynn Whitfield is stunning as the young girl’s mother, and Debbi Morgan as her palm reading aunt steals the whole show. Lemmons has made a fine debut, an elegant and memorable film that serves all the talents involved extremely well.