The first thing striking this film is that it is a French-Belgium co-production with a setting of racial tension following the 1992 riots in Los Angeles of the United States. The riots are the result of the acquittal of the 4 policeman accused of the beating of black youth Rodney King. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven is a Turkish born French. A foreigner tackling a sensitive American issue spells trouble. True enough! The film has, at the time of writing, a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 8 reviews. The film contains too many instances of sensationalization and desperation with the overall feel that director Ergüven seems insecure and has too much to prove with her story.
But she is already an accomplished director with her debut film, MUSTANG nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award. This is quite the achievement, that allowed her the financial backing to make this film. Not ono that, bit she is able to cast two stars Halle Berry and Daniel Craig in the title roles. It is also her original script which is made even more current with a romance between a mixed couple.
The film’s opening scene is already troublesome. A young black woman puts a jug of orange juice at an Asian Convenience Store into her coat only to be suspected for theft by the store owner who ends up shooting the black woman after being punched in the face by her. Though this is a true incident that occurred, it downplays the Rodney King incident. Another troublesome part involves black kids shoplifting and then celebrating their spoils, which basically translates to a film that condones stealing. There is one good segment in which a cop has to handle one suspect in a car and two youths who has entered his cop car. “God, I hate this job!” the cop screams. This is a good view from the side of the cops, for a change, illustrating that they too, have problems when dealing with crime in a black neighbourhood.
The film is largely spoiled by Halle Berry in what must be the worst casting of an actress in a role not to mention her bad acting. She overdoes her angelic Mother Teresa role of taking troubled kids into her home. Her perfect ‘model’ look and perfect hair do not help the credibility of her role either. The next worst thing is the casting of James Bond Daniel Craig as the reclusive neighbour next time. And horror or horrors! The two have a romantic interlude.
The females in the film often scream and shout, appearing like spoilt children getting into a fit for not being bale to get what they want. They also resort to foul language that is so unbecoming of a lady. All this seems ok and fine since the director has a thing about women issues. Yet, the audience is supposed to respect such behaviour.
The result is an overdone, over preachy film that gets tedious and terribly annoying.