Saturday, October 23, 2010

Movie Review: Brooklyn Babylon

Needless to say, this post may contain spoilers.

Brooklyn Babylon
2001, R for language, violence, domestic violence, drug use, and sexual situations
watched via Netflix streaming on XBox

IMDB synopsis:
In Brooklyn's Crown Heights, where West Indian Rastafarians and other Blacks live next door to the Jewish Lubavitch community, ethnic tensions are high. After a minor car crash, the headstrong Judah and other Jewish youths who patrol as vigilantes confront Scratch, a mouthy African-American hustler. Passengers in the cars make eye contact: Sol, a hip-hop musician, songwriter, and artist (Scratch's friend), and Sara, who is betrothed to Judah but wants to go to college and be on her own. Over the next few days, while Scratch and Judah's conflict escalates in violence, Sara and Sol connect in ways that echo Sheba and Solomon.

J thinks:
When the opening scene was shot in a gritty, arthouse film quality, I thought "Oh no, not another low budget film!" but I'm glad I stuck with it. The quality improves :)

"Love is the key to life."

Brooklyn Babylon has a lot going on in it -- determining your own future, racial tensions in New York, Jewish and Rastafarian cultures and religions, the NYC rap music industry, a Romeo and Juliet-type romance that's totally not. I like that the two leads are rational human beings that sometimes blow up at circumstances, but can talk things out and recover from it. The social pressures present in the film are approached in a realistic and very straightforward way, although some of the actions (a molotov cocktail at a car and a club) would have much bigger repercussions in a post-9/11 NYC.

I liked the chemistry between the main actors, however, I have to admit Sara had this tendency to look soul-fully at times instead of using her words, but it was nowhere near Twihard-mouth-breather annoyance inducing. There's a heavy music influence in the movie, with a montage, and the sound can overpower the dialogue at times, but not terribly.

I admit, my heart was in my throat throughout the movie, wondering how they could work within or outside of their two worlds, but if you listen to the last song of the movie, it just pulls it all together beautifully. The last scene made me smile and I think it ends with a message of hope. I wanted more details of their ending, but it feels more universal in the way it does end, so I didn't mind.

Definitely a movie I recommend watching!

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