I'm going to cut straight to my rating for this film. GO SEE "AMERICAN VIOLET"! Without a doubt "American Violet," starring Alfre Woodard and newcomer Nicole Beharie, gets my box office approval. This is an indie film so don't hit up Ray Ray at the swap meet for your bootleg copy. Go support this movie at the theaters. I saw a screening of "American Violet" two weeks ago at Magic Johnson Theater in South LA and people loved it. There was a lot of call and response to the screen. You know how we are at movies, especially when they're good. :)
"American Violet" is inspired by the true story of Regina Kelly, a 24-year-old, single mother of four who was wrongfully arrested in a drug raid. The story takes place in a small Texas town during the 2000 Bush vs. Gore presidential election. Nicole Beharie plays the character based on Kelly, Dee Roberts. Alfre Woodard is Dee's mother Alma Roberts. The DA offers Dee a deal, plead guilty and be released from jail immediately or face up to 25 years in prison. Dee boldly defends her innocence and with the help of the ACLU sues the DA for racists motives behind his drug arrests.
Nicole Beharie is amazing is in the role. This sista is so talented. She's a recent graduate of Julliard and her skills come through on the screen. Hey Hollywood execs, I want to see her in more quality movies. Alfre Woodard was superb as always. I love Alfre Woodard. I'd watch her perform lines from the Yellow Pages. The chemistry between Beharie and Woodard shined on the screen. Woodard's character Alma doesn't want Dee to fight the DA and risk her freedom. Alma is warm and sassy. The mother/daughter relationship between her and Dee has a bit of tension because of Dee's decision, but at the same time is loving.
I can't forget the brothas in the film. Charles S. Dutton plays Dee's minister. Xzibit does a great job as Dee's drunk, abusive babydaddy Darrell Hughes. This was not the cool, friendly "Pimp My Ride" Xzibit. And seeing Anthony Mackie (played Tupac in Notorious) was a nice surprise. He was in a few key scenes but his performance was great. Anybody who can convincingly portray Tupac in one film, then morph into a young, mentally ill, southern man in another movie is a real, true talent. I also like the movie because there's some action and a lot of passion. You will not be looking at your cellphone clock to check the time. The writing and actors keep you engaged the whole two hours.
Another interesting note, the film is directed by Tim Disney, great nephew of Walt Disney. But this is not a Mickey Mouse production.
Normally I don' t like to see movies about the trials and tribulations of the hood because Hollywood focuses on that part of the black experience too much. I'm from the hood, I love my hood, but there's more to black people than living in the hood. This movie is different. It shows a young, black woman taking a stand. It steps out of the stereotype of poor, young, single, black mothers proving, that she too can be a leader in her community. The film also detours from the hood movies that centers around the gangster. "American Violet" highlights the family and the SHEro.
American Violet will make you mad, hopeful and inspired. I interviewed Regina Kelly, the real woman who took on the DA. She's an amazing woman. Once it is published I will post a link for you to read.
"American Violet" debuted this past weekend in some theaters but will will show in othrer theaters May 1st. Click here to find the release date near you. Spread the word about this movie so it can reach more theaters.