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Rosewood

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Rosewood

Starring: Ving Rhames, Jon Voight
Director: John Singleton
Rated: R
RunTime: 135 Minutes
Release Date: February 1997
Genres: Action, Drama


*Also starring: Don Cheadle, Bruce McGill, Loren Dean, Esther Rolle, Elise Neal, Catherine Kellner, Michael Rooker



Review by Walter Frith
3 stars out of 4

'Rosewood' is based on a true story of a black town in Florida that was burned to the ground after a white woman falsely accused a black man of rape. The tragedy happened in 1923 and was relatively unknown until the incident was brought to life again seventy years later.

Director John Singleton ('Boyz N the Hood', 'Poetic Justice', 'Higher Learning') has made a searing, emotional and harrowing motion picture filled with a nightmarish theme of mob justice that plays out as a slice of American life that many will find hard to believe.

A white shopkeeper (Jon Voight) is conscience stricken by what he sees and helps the town's black citizens escape persecution and death. A black World War I veteran (Ving Rhames) passes through the area and becomes part of the rescue effort, assisting Voight. Another intriguing member of the cast (Don Cheadle) is compelling as a strong willed member of the town who refuses to give in to prejudice.

The flaws in 'Rosewood' are few and far between as Singleton directs this movie as an absorbing and meticulously refined drama of detailed proportions. His recreation of a time and place in history is as vivid and convincing as the most researched documentary there is.

This motion picture is an early contender as one of 1997's best films and could become Singleton's masterpiece although 'Boyz N the Hood' (1991) will rank as quite an achievement for the young director who received two Oscar nominations for that film as director and as the film's writer. At the time, he was the youngest director nominated in the history of the Academy, making 'Boyz N the Hood' when he was 23. He is a promising and creative mind for the future of American cinema and his talent is derived largely from choosing socially powerful subjects and bringing their aspects to the public's attention and 'Rosewood' is perhaps the best film dealing with racism since 'Do the Right Thing' (1989) and the best film about mob justice since 'The Ox-Bow Incident' (1943).

The first half of 'Rosewood' is an introduction and visual structure of a story whose message of violence leading to cause and effect explodes in the second half with unforgettable results.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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