Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Movie Review: love jones 3 ½ Stars

love jones, the debut film of writer/director Theodore Witcher, is a smart, sexy and, above all, funny romantic comedy. While love jones breaks no new ground as a romantic comedy, it also doesn’t make the mistake of attempting to re-invent the genre by merely placing it inside a gimmicky premise. Instead, the film plays out as a lighthearted love story showing all the peaks and valleys of a nascent relationship.

Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) is a hip hop poet and burgeoning writer living in present day Chicago. He and his buddies, Savon (Isaiah Washington), Sheila (Bernadette L. Clarke), Eddie (Leonard Roberts) and Hollywood (Bill Bellamy) congregate at a southside jazz club to perform poetry, talk about love and life and otherwise bust each others’ chops.

When Nina (Nia Long), a beautiful photographer, comes into the bar with her girlfriend Josie (Lisa Nicole Carson), Darius is immediately smitten. He launches a campaign to woo her, but Nina is reticent, having just broken off her engagement. But soon enough, sparks and clothes are flying, Darius and Nina knock boots, and the real troubles begin.

With so much entertainment marketed toward black audiences nothing more than minstrel shows, love jones is a breath of fresh air; its strength is in the honest characterizations and realistic dialogue of young black artists and professionals. The soundtrack, in particular, stands as a testament to the pride with which Witcher made his film. Rich with the history of black music, the eclectic soundtrack includes tracks from Charlie Parker, Maxwell, Macy Gray, The Refugee Camp All-Stars and local Chicago hip hop poets, the Funky Wordsmyths.

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