27 July 2014

American Violet

American Violet 2008
  • Director: Tim Disney
  • Based on a book: No
  • Cast: Nicole Beharie, Alfre Woodard,Tim Blake Nelson, Will Patton,  Michael O’Keefe, Xzibit, Malcolm Barrett, Charles S. Dutton.
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Nicole Beharie – nothing yet
    • Alfre Woodard – Bopha!, Passion Fish, Hill Street Blues, Remember My Name
    • Tim Blake Nelson –  The Darwin Awards, Holes, The Good Girl, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Hamlet, The Thin Red Line, Donnie Brasco
    • Charles S. Dutton - Honeydripper, Secret Window, Homicide Life on the Street, Alien 3
  • Why? It sounded good
  • Seen: July 20, 2014.
The racism is real enough and Bush’s war on drugs is well documented. The case in this film is real or at least “based on a true story”.  We know things like this happen all the time.
Dee Roberts, a young divorcee with four small daughters, is caught up in a drug raid of white policemen against a working class black neighbourhood in a small town in Texas.  Raids like this are happening all over the country in Bush’s USA.  95% of cases like this end up with the accused taking “plea bargains” which means that they plead guilty, whether guilty or not, to get a shorter sentence.  Dee refuses and is chosen by the ACLU to sue the main villain in the case, the district attorney who is infamous for his racism and hard line militancy in the war against drugs.
We follow the domestic complications, the drama, the reasoning of the white men who have pledged themselves to changing the system.
In many ways it is a formula film of American justice winning in the end against American racism and sexism and corruption, proving that the system is basically good after all because the feisty sexy good looking young woman stands up against impossible odds. Like Norma Rae and Erin Brockovich.  Like these two films, this one is often too Hollywood pretty to be believable.
But it’s well acted and dramatic.  And just as I’m wondering about all the individuals who don’t win, the film ends with: “The United States has the world’s largest prison population. Of the 2.3 million people currently in prison, more than 90% accepted plea bargains.”

3 ½ * of 5

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