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Teen Movie Critic

Poetic Justice


Roger Davidson

Poetic Justice
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John Singleton's second feature, and Janet Jackson's film debut, is a worthy effort if not a successful one. Jackson stars as hairdresser-poet Justice, who has retreated into her own world after her boyfriend was killed by gang members. Her friend Iesha (Regina King) attempts to get Jackson out of her deep blue funk, by asking her to join her mailman boyfriend (Joe Torry) and Torry's cohort (the late Tupac Shakur) on a road trip to Oakland, California. Shakur has problems of his own, which include his young daughter living with a crack-addicted mother. Shakur and Jackson, despite their initial anger and hostility towards one another, find that they have common interests. Jackson starts to come out of her shell and shows some compassion towards the troubled Shakur. Shakur does the same, though with a lot more difficulty.

It's not a great film and the romantic plot is cliched, but how many black actors do you see doing romantic films nowadays? Shakur and Jackson give some very mesmerizing performances, each playing a character that is much different from their music personas. Jackson in particular does so well, that from time to time, you don't think it's her. The supporting players King and Torry could have been a little more well-developed, but these are minor quibbles. Singleton adds some nice touches with the funny film-within-a-film opening, and an amusing sidetrip to a family reunion with whom Jackson and Co. have crashed. Singleton could have done much worse with the material, but instead opens a genre, usually dominated by white filmakers, to a whole new audience.

My Rating = Three Stars

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