Love Jones Review

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Cool bohemians relax in jazz clubs and discuss life's great questions in stark contrast to most black cinema.


The surprise hit of that indie Mecca the Sundance Film Festival, this would have been lost among dozens of other smartly scripted, style-on-a-shoestring features had it not been for the fact that it's about the kind of African-American Bohemians who usually dwell on the fringes of Whit Stillman movies.

This is a bold new direction for Black American cinema. There's not a homeboy in sight, not a single rap anthem on the soundtrack, and no one gets blown away in the midst of a hopeless crime. Instead we get jazz poetry clubs, arty monochrome photos, discussions about the meaning of life and dialogue almost totally devoid of the F-word.

At the centre of this cosy paradise are Darius (a live-mike poet who's writing a novel - Tate) and Nina (a photographer who's gone off men - Long). Naturally, the path to true love is strewn with the kind of rows and separations that only ever happen in films because movie people never provide or listen to the explanations that would end a misunderstanding in five seconds flat. But where's the fun in that?

Tate and Long gel beautifully, but all the performances have a relaxed assurance that stands in stark contrast to the aggressive delivery of much New Black Cinema. Witcher makes the most of a misty, wet Chicago and outdoes himself with a wonderful "sleep on the sofa" scene.

Love Jones is fun, at least for the first hour, after which the melodrama takes over and the characters stop being witty and become schmaltzy instead.