Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Black Nativity

Black Nativity
Starring:
Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jacob Latimore


Rated: PG for thematic material, language and a menacing situation.
Reviewed by: Chris  
Release date: November 22, 2013 Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Inspired by a play by Langston Hughes, this musical/drama feels very much like a stage play.   Starring Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and young talent, Jacob Latimore, director Kasi Lemmons uses gospel and rap to tell the spiritual Nativity story.
 
Hudson plays Naima, a single mother living in Baltimore with her teenage son, Langston (Latimore).  Facing eviction, she sends Langston to stay with her parents (Whitaker and Bassett) in Harlem, N.Y.  She hadn't spoken to them since she ran away at fifteen, pregnant and at odds with her strict father, pastor of a large Harlem church.
 
Langston arrives on the bus with a lot of anger and unanswered questions.   He wants to know why his grandparents and his mother are estranged and find out the identity of his absent father.  He has a chip on his shoulder and could easily find himself making some bad decisions, without the help of some people he meets on the streets
 
Set at the lovely brownstone where his grandparents live and on the harsh streets of Harlem, the story of the Nativity is told by a homeless, pregnant couple looking for shelter for the birth of their baby and at the church annual Christmas service.   Although all of the main characters sing, Mary J. Blige as an Angel and Hudson are the strongest voices.   Especially, Hudson who inspires with every powerful note. 
 
Its obvious from the beginning, that young Langston will be the catalyst for a Christmas reconciliation, but the wonderful cast and terrific music makes the inevitable worth it.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Black Nativity  C+   B-   C+                     C+ 

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