22 February 2008

She's Gotta Have It

People have told me that I'm a pretty harsh critic. And I know that I do have a tendency to hate on movies from time to time. But my eyes have been opened. I've been spoiled, y'all. These movies I been bitchin' about, they are MASTERPIECES next to the phenomenally awful movie I watched last night. She's Gotta Have It is one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time, in fact, maybe ever. All the more baffling, because it's hailed as a classic. The wikipedia entry on it even quotes the NYTimes as saying it "ushered in the American independent film movement". And it was a big deal, because it was a shift away from Blaxploitation flicks. Well, that's all well and good folks, and I'm glad it managed to do some good things for the world, but guess what? It's still a terrible movie.

Right from the get-go, you know you're in for a lousy time. The minute the protagonist opens her mouth, painfully trite dialogue delivered with the skill of an earnest 12 year old auditioning for her first role floods your ears. It's so stupid that I almost turned it off right then and there. It's completely hollow, and gratingly annoying. And it doesn't get any better.

The plot centers around Nola, a sassy young woman who wants to have her cake and eat it too. In this case, the cake is three guys competing for her affections. Why these guys would want to spend more than 5 minutes in her company is beyond me. In fact, it seems to be somewhat beyond them too, given their testimonials. And yes, testimonials is the right word, because for some reason, the characters speak directly into the camera half the time. Anyhow, so she keeps bangin' these dudes, without actually hiding the fact that she's doing all three of them, and despite the fact that none of them are happy with this arrangement, they stick around. To make it "interesting", they're very different guys. We have Greer, the male model who is also a raging asshole, Jamie, who is generally a nice guy, if somewhat dull, and Mars. Mars, played by Spike Lee, starts out being kind of annoying, but about halfway through the movie, Spike Lee apparently couldn't stand playing such a shitty caricature of a person and decided to make him somewhat interesting. Unfortunately, he did not accord this mercy to the other actors. It's interesting, actually, because for some reason, you have the sense that some of the people playing in this movie could actually act well if they wanted to. It's hard to explain what gives one this impression, but nonetheless, I feel the need to exonerate them for their dismal performances and blame it on the direction.

Anyhow, so after awhile, she's forced to make a choice, and refuses, and then does, and then her choice turns her down, and then he takes her back, and then she appears in the last 30 seconds of the film and tells us it didn't really work out anyhow because she's just not a one-man type of girl. Oh how very empowered. So we're exactly where we started. Thanks for taking up 90 minutes of my life. At least you could have thrown in some good sex scenes, because the ones on offer were pretty damn unappealing.

Ultimately, the movie flops because it fails to make its protagonist into anything more than an emotionally immature and self-centered drama queen who doesn't develop or change at all over the course of the film. Oh, that, and the dialogue sucks, the plot is stupid, and the cinematography is underwhelming. I understand it did good things for cinema as a whole. But honestly, I can't for the life of me understand how anyone has watched the movie and enjoyed it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for saving me the time I would of spent watching this. I stumbled upon a family member watching this movie. The weak sex scenes were on and the movie was in black and white so I decided to pass. After I heard about the plot I became interested, but I still did not care to watch it. I searched for reviews, but I would always get a generic synopsis that didn't tell me the ending or the elite movie critic reviews. You gave me exactly what I was looking for and saved 90 minutes of my life. Thanks a bunch.

culture_vulture said...

Glad to be of service!

Anonymous said...

Typical hipster sentiment. Completely detached from the meaning of this movie.

culture_vulture said...

What an astute comment. Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the plot summary but unfortunately i have to watch this movie for my film class..do you know where i could find it online, preferably for free? Maybe even streaming perhaps? I've searched high and low and nobody seems to carry it since it's 25+ years old and probably only on VHS..any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!!