Blallywood Film Review: Big Words
“What happens to a dream deferred?” Langston Hughes asked this infamous question years ago and this film explores that very concept. On the night of the historic 2008 Presidential election, we find three members of a once close-knit rap group having lost touch. One member, a successful publicist now out and navigating a complicated relationship with his yuppie male partner, another completely lost in former glory, and the other, a cousin to the first, is a guilt-ridden zombie refusing to take responsibility for his role in preventing the group from achieving the success they wanted. The truth is slowly revealed as the members reconnect in an unexpected way on a street in Brooklyn.
The film stars Dorian Missick, Gbenga Akinnagbe, and Darien Sills-Evans as the once-promising hip hop trio. Other players include Yaya Alafia and Zachary Booth, adequately supporting the arcs of the leading players. Performances are strong but suffer under the lagging rhythm of the film. Standouts include Akinnagbe as a tender and interesting James, charismatic and a pleasure to watch in scenes with Booth. Alafia is also smooth and energetic as Annie with a tangible dream of breaking into the music business.
For a style of music so heavily dependent on heartbeat, I expected the film to have a fresh, swift, and lyrical quality. Instead, it was pretty pedestrian and slow moving, focused on the mundane moment-to-moment events, finally culminating in the clash outside James’s home in Brooklyn.
Thematic concepts are explored quite convincingly however, especially the idea of disaffection and isolation as it results to dreams deferred, particularly for African American men. To have such vulnerable dreams ripped away can result in a deep and complicated heartbreak. I could see how this heartbreak manifested in psychological wounds, walls, and even overcompensation for each person. The unity component was beautifully brought home with real footage from the night Barack Obama was first elected. Check out this film, released exclusively on Netflix, and support the work of the African American Film Releasing Movement. Their mission to represent the complex and varied African American experience is a worthy one and deserves our support. B.