Poetic Justice Review

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The story of a lonely hairdresser and her relationship with a mailman.


John Singleton becomes another victim of second-movie syndrome with this almost predictably disappointing follow-up to the wildly acclaimed Boyz N The Hood. Made more than two years ago, this is nowhere near as well thought out as its predecessor, and is far more strained in making its point. Nevertheless, Singleton deserves praise for an interestingly ambitious effort at portraying the women of South Central LA and for the endearing innocence of his positive message: that love and creative expression can save us all.

Justice (Janet Jackson) is a lonely beautician with a tragic history, her consolation and release coming through writing poetry. The problem, however, is that Singleton tries to pass off the eloquent poems of Maya Angelou as Justice's own, when Jackson's character, vocabulary and recitations present an unlikely source for these mature distillations. Moreover, the story of her hostile relationship with the violence-rejecting postman Lucky (Tupac Shakur) and its forgone romantic conclusion is all over the place, full of contrived scenes or characters whose incorporation is rarely engaging and seldom relevant. It is also tediously foul-mouthed.

What the film has going for it, however, is a sensitive intelligence, attempting to explore a difficult theme, even if the realisation is a bit shaky. And Jackson, in her film debut, has the compelling watchability of a true star, playing this sad, shy but spirited young woman with heart and a smile that really does light up the screen.

Some good performances are balanced out by the film's contrivances and gratuitously foul-mouthed characters.