Written by: Mut Asheru
The answer is yes. This is a good film. “1982” is writer-director Tommy Oliver’s debut. There aren’t any fancy camera angles to speak of. The winning combination here is scripting and casting. One would think placing Wayne Brady in a gangster role (as Alonzo) is a comical idea..but I’ll be damned if Mr. Brady didn’t pull it off with an utterly believable air. Shocked me…but that’s what I get for underestimating a brother.
As good as Brady is in his role the show undoubtedly belongs to husband-father Timothy (Hill Harper) and daughter Maya (Trio Zee) who both have to capture and hold the audience’s attention as they suffer the devastating reality of losing wife-mother Shenae (Sharon Leal) the person they love most to hard-drug use. Just when you thought (okay I thought) Leal was basically just another pretty face with some decent acting chops she surprised me and turned in a powerful performance that really hits home when the moments count. That’s what I get for underestimating a sister.
This is not a drug story of hysterical proportions. It’s more of a quiet piece that focuses on the emotional aspects of a man in love and a daughter left in confusion. A wonderful, beautiful and outstanding daughter. A good, loving and hard-working man and father. No he doesn’t go in and set the drug dealer’s pad ablaze in a swash of retribution and fire. Yes, there is a beat down or two to be sure but they hardly matter in the overall scheme of things. What matters is the emotional devastation wreaked upon the family unit as a result of Shenae’s drug induced abandonment and betrayal.
I think Oliver did well to keep this story as simple as possible without adding any unnecessary conventions such as round-house kicks. All that was needed is Hill Harper. There’s something about his presence on screen that is just…heavy. He’s a cinematic anchor that’s fully present within this well-written character. I say well-written because of the sheer simplistic truthfulness that is Timothy. How much of Timothy is written versus whatever Harper may have added is a guess to me at this point, but I prefer to think it was a happy harmony of both director and actor’s talents.
At the beginning of the film, it’s difficult to tell where the trouble waits. Is it with the husband, mother or the daughter? As the story progresses you learn what it means to have to let go of the thought that you have the power to control another human being. Oliver’s movie 1982 quietly grabs you but its impact is strong and resounding none-the-less.
1982 will be screened Tuesday April 8 at 10:15 pm and Wednesday, April 9 at 7:45pm = both showings at the Angelika Theatre during the 2014 Dallas International Film Festival. For more info go to www.dallasfilm.org
|Run time: 90 min|
|Director: Tommy Oliver|
|Cast: Hill Harper, Sharon Leal, Ruby Dee, Bokeem Woodbine, Wayne Brady, Quinton Aaron, La La Anthony,|
|Screenwriters: Tommy Oliver|
|Producers: Heather Rae, Tommy Oliver, Hill Harper, Paull Cho, Marcea Bland-Lloyd|
|Cinematographer: Daniel Vecchione|
|Production designer: Maggie Ruder|
|Music: John Jennings Boyd|
|Editor: Tovah Leibowitz, Tommy Oliver|