Film Review by Kam Williams
It’s November 4, 2008, and Brooklyn is bristling with anticipation about the impending election returns to see whether or not Barack Obama will be the nation’s first African-American president. But the magic of the moment is pretty much lost on John aka MC Wordsmith (Dorian Missick), James aka Jay-V (Gbenga Akinnagbe) and Terry aka DJ Malik (Darien Sills-Evans), despite the fact that they’re black and hail from the ‘hood.
Back in the early Nineties, the three shared a brief promising career as the Down Low Poets, a fledgling hip-hop group which produced a video, two singles and an unreleased album before disappearing from the record-biz radar. The band disbanded, went their separate ways and lost touch entirely.
Today, with Obama poised to make history, we find each consumed by a personal crisis. John has just been laid off from his job as an IT technician. James is now a book publicist in a stagnant relationship and considering seducing his handsome, young intern (Zachary Booth). Only Terry is still an aspiring rap star, and stubbornly refuses to see the handwriting on the wall after a couple of decades squandered desperately trying to make it in the music business.
By a twist of fate, their paths cross at an election night party where Obama’s achievement only serves as a distracting backdrop. Proving far more compelling are the personal questions being raised. What are John’s chances with the stripper (Yaya Alafia) he just picked up at a go-go bar?
Will out-of-the-closet James’ once-hidden homosexuality remain a block to repairing relationships with his former pals, especially his cousin, John? Will Terry drop the hip-hop moniker, pull up his pants, and get a real job?
Written and directed by Neil Drumming, Big Words is a perfectly plausible, character-driven drama with only one glaring flaw. Why bother to set an African-American tale on Election Night 2008, if you plan to give Obama’s triumph such short shrift?
A poignant portrait of a very eventful day in the lives of a trio too self-absorbed to care about who was about to win the White House.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: AFFRM / Twice Told Films
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