Rated: R for language. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: March 17, 1995 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation
On the surface the script has been used before. One family adopts a child and the biological parent wants him back. What separates this film is an intelligent script and quality performances by the entire cast.
While thee script addresses the needs of Isaiah and his two mothers, it also explores the sensitive concept of white parents adopting a black child. It also resists excessive emotionalism and reaches for a solution rather than a victory for one woman over the other.
The script is interesting but the performances carry the film. Jessica Lange is perfect as the social worker who falls in love with crack baby Isaiah, who has been abandoned in a trash pile by his mother, Halle Berry. Lange has become a premier actress. She is so different than her beginning in King Kong. David Strathairn, the husband, has an incredible range. He was marvelous as the carpenter in "Passion Fish" and totally believable as the father in "The River Wild."
Overall this production belongs to Berry. This is a breakthrough performance for the young actress. She begins as a crackhead living in abandoned buildings with Isaiah and ends as a beautiful well-dressed young woman learning to care more for her son than herself.
The major fault with the film is the perfect resolution. Life for Isaiah and Khaila, his mother, probably would not have resolved itself nearly so well.