January 18, 2017

Saroo (Dev Patel) was born into poverty in India’s Khandwa district. He lived there with his single mother, Kamla (Priyanka Bose), his older brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate), and his younger sister, Shekila (Khushi Solanki).

His illiterate mother eked out a living by carrying rocks from a local quarry, and she could barely afford to keep a roof over their heads. So, when Guddu found a night job hauling bales of hay, Saroo begged to go with him to help, even though he was really too small for the job.

Saroo fell asleep after the long ride sitting on his brother’s bike’s handlebars to the worksite. “It’s my fault, for bringing him here,” Guddu lamented, before leaving Saroo alone for the night on a train station bench.

Unfortunately, when Guddu was nowhere to be seen when he woke up, the five-year-old forgot his brother’s instruction to stay put and went looking for him. While searching for food on a decommissioned train, the train’s doors locked and it started moving. After several days, Saroo ended up in Bengal, a city 1,600 miles away. When he got off the train, Saroo couldn’t get any help from the busy passers-by, because he did not speak the language spoken there, and he mispronounced the name of his hometown, “Ganestalay.”

He ended up struggling to survive on the streets, until he was taken in by a local orphanage. After some time Saroo, who didn’t know his last name, his mother’s name, or where he was from, was sent to Australia where Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John Brierley (David Wenham), were eager to adopt him.

For the next 25 years, he grew up going to school, playing cricket, swimming in a cove off the ocean, and then falling in love with Lucy (Rooney Mara), an Australian. Then one fateful evening a childhood memory was triggered during a dinner of Indian food.

Compulsively curious about his roots, Saroo used his computer to search for his birthplace in India. Finally he realized that he had been mispronouncing the name of the area where he was born and found it on the computer. When he flew to India, he had a joyous reunion with his mother and younger sister, but sadly his brother Guddu had died.

Adapted from Saroo Brierley’s autobiography, A Long Way Home, Lion is a heartbreaking biopic with an emotional punch, thanks to powerful performances by Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel as the young and adult Saroo, respectively. The supporting cast, led by Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman, portrayed the women who had played pivotal roles in Saroo’s life.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some sensuality. In English, Hindi, and Bengali with subtitles. Running time: 118 minutes.

Distributor: The Weinstein Company.

If at first an idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. — Albert Einstein

I’m thinking of two Lears. Edward is the author of “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat,” one of the happiest poems ever written. The other Lear is Shakespeare’s mad king who brings the world down on his head because he only hears what he wants to hear no matter how evil the source and when he hears something he doesn’t want to hear, even when it’s spoken by an angel, he banishes the angel, opens the door of his kingdom to evil, and is lost. It’s our good fortune that Shakespeare makes great literature out of all that madness and misery. It’s our absurd fortune that someone with the failings of the mad king is about to take the throne. more

The Arts Council of Princeton is nominated for Favorite Gallery, Favorite Adult Art Classes, and Favorite Art Camp in the Discover Jersey Arts People’s Choice Awards. Pictured here is their building, Paul Robeson Center for the Arts.

For one semester, Princeton University’s Music 219, an opera performance class in the music department, put its small class through the paces of preparing operatic excerpts for public performance. The students and faculty selected the music to be prepared, and the class culminated last Saturday night in an evening of operatic selections accompanied by an orchestra.  more

BURIAL BATTLE: Laertes (Edmund Lewis, on bottom) and Hamlet (Eric Tucker) fight over the corpse of Ophelia (Andrus Nichols) in the graveyard, as Hamlet prepares for his final revenge in Bedlam theater company’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre through February 12. (Photo by Elizabeth Nichols)

A New York-based theater company founded in 2012, Bedlam, currently presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Shaw’s Saint Joan in rotating repertory at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre, has received much acclaim from New York critics and others for its productions over the past four years. McCarter artistic director Emily Mann saw their Saint Joan a few years ago in New York City, and “was determined to bring Bedlam’s work to Princeton.” more

January 11, 2017

Paterson (Adam Driver), who happens to live in Paterson, New Jersey, is stuck in a rut. By day, the municipal bus driver drives his bus on a boring route in Paterson. After work, he hangs out at a dingy, neighborhood bar where he limits himself to one beer. Then, he heads home to be with his loving wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), and his bulldog, Marvin.

Writing is his only escape from the mind-numbing monotony. Whenever he has some free time, he scribbles poetry into a secret notebook that he always carries with him. Laura wants him to make a copy of the journal in case it gets lost or is accidentally destroyed.

By comparison, Laura is ambitious. Despite her foreign accent and a lack of musical training, she dreams of becoming a country western singer. So, she wants to purchase a guitar and take lessons that they can’t really afford. Fortunately for her, her husband is too blasé to object to her plans.

Resigned to his lot in life, the unassuming blue-collar hero takes everything in stride, whether dealing with passengers, unwinding with his wife, or schmoozing with the colorful regulars at the local saloon. Thus unfolds Paterson, the latest film from the legendary Jim Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise).

The movie relies upon the dialogue of the script that has become a Jarmusch trademark. The movie is more concerned with character development than with cinematic effects. In the film, Adam Driver successfully tones down his usual over-the-top act in order to play the title role of an undistinguished Average Joe.

The picture’s charm rests in the gifted director’s ability to elevate a humble “Everyman” into a personality worthy of a movie audience’s attention.

Very Good (***). Rated R for profanity. Running time: 118 minutes. Studio: Amazon. Distributor: Bleecker Street Media.

PHS graduate Damien Chazelle met recently with Town Topics film reviewer Kam Williams to  talk about his latest movie, La La Land, which swept the Golden Globes Sunday, winning a record seven awards.

Damien wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning Whiplash which landed five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle. The movie won a trio of Oscars in the Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) categories.

In 2013, his short film of the same name won the Short Film Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Previously, Damien wrote Grand Piano, starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack, and co-wrote the horror sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane, starring John Goodman. His screenplays for Whiplash and The Claim both appeared on the “Blacklist,” the annual survey of the most liked motion picture screenplays not yet produced.

Damien shot his first feature film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, while still an undergraduate at Harvard University. The critically-acclaimed debut was named the Best First Feature of 2010 by L.A. Weekly and was described as “easily the best first film in eons” by Time Out New York. more

Every now and then certain cliches become not only useful but indispensable. That’s what makes them cliches, after all. In the period since November 8, and to a lesser extent during the presidential campaign itself, “skating on thin ice” has said it best for me. The idea also describes how it is to look for Shakespeare in his play Pericles, the first two acts of which are thought to be the work of a hack named George Wilkins. Then there’s Jacques Rivette (1928-2016) and his first full-length film Paris Belongs to Us (Paris nous appartient), which puts thin ice under your feet even before it begins with an epigraph from Charles Péguy that says “Paris belongs to no one.”

As it happens, the “thin ice” sensation in both works gives them a disturbing relevance to any real-life crisis or turn of events, regardless of time, place, or context.

The greatness of Shakespeare is that he’s always with us, forever pertinent, there to be shaped or tempered or all too often twisted to flow with the currents of the time, even when the work in question is as damaged as Pericles. How “topical” is Pericles? An article by Cynthia Zarin from the New Yorker’s online Culture Desk mentions “the Middle East, refugees, perilous sea crossings, and sex trafficking.”  more

Williamson Hall overlooking the Princeton campus of Westminster Choir College.

At a packed meeting of Princeton’s Historic Preservation Commission last week, a group of students, alumni, and friends of Westminster Choir College of Rider University asked that the Westminster campus on Walnut Avenue be registered as a historic district. The request is part of an effort to keep the music school’s operations in Princeton, instead of relocating to Rider’s Lawrenceville location, a move the financially strapped University is considering. more

January 4, 2017

All of the astronauts who were chosen by NASA to participate in its first manned space programs — Mercury and Gemini — were white males. However, behind the scenes, there was a dedicated team of female African American mathematicians who played a pivotal role in ensuring that the missions launched and returned safely to Earth.

Equipped with pencils and slide-rules, these “human computers” were among the best and the brightest minds recruited by NASA and performed the critical calculations that were necessary to control the launches and returns of the missions. Author Margot Lee Shetterly describes the lives of these unsung heroines in Hidden Figures, a bestseller that credits their contributions to the space race.

In addition to chronicling their accomplishments, the book also recounts the indignities these brilliant black women suffered while living in Virginia during the days of Jim Crow. Back then, African American’s employed by NASA were automatically assigned to work in the segregated West Computing Group.

Directed by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent), the story is an uplifting documentary drama. The movie recounts the trials and tribulations of three members of the unit: Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae).

The film shows how, without complaining, Katherine had to run to a distant “colored” ladies room despite the presence of one for whites that was nearby. On another occasion, we see Mary’s frustration in furthering her education because blacks weren’t allowed to enroll in the local college that was offering the courses she needed.

By the film’s end, both the bathroom and school were integrated after an emotional intervention by NASA administrator Al Harrison (Kevin Costner). The movie is a dramatic documentary that corrects a shameful chapter in American history.

Excellent (****). Rated PG for mature themes and mild epithets. Running time: 127 minutes. Distributor: 20th Century Fox.

Medicine is my lawful wife and writing is my mistress. — Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

In Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Chekhovian police procedural, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, the daughter of a village mayor is serving tea to some detectives, a prosecutor, a doctor inspired by Chekhov, and an accused killer who has been leading them on a haphazard search for the body of the man he murdered. Heavy winds having knocked out the power, the room is dark, and the men are in awe of the beauty of the girl’s face cameoed in the light of the candle on the tray she’s carrying as she moves among them. Someone remarks on the sudden apparition of “such an angel.” Gazing up at her when she bends to serve him his glass of tea, the killer begins to weep.

Given Ceylan’s frequent references to the influence of Chekhov’s fiction on his work, the hushed wonder of the girl’s entrance may owe something to his story, “The Beauties,” which is told by a man looking into the cinema of his memory to a moment in his late teens. A 16-year-old girl at some miserable outpost swarming with flies in the middle of nowhere is serving tea. She has her back to the narrator at first, all he can see is that she’s slender, barefoot, in a simple white cotton dress and kerchief. When she turns around to hand him his tea, he feels “all at once as though a wind were blowing away all the impressions of the day, all the dust and dreariness.”  more

JEWELS SOLD WISELY: This Cartier diamond, platinum, and onyx pinecone brooch was sold at Rago Auctions for $514,000. Starting on January 10, all are welcome to schedule an appointment or drop in at Morven Museum and Garden between 1–3 p.m. to have their jewelry valuated by an appraiser from the leading U.S. auction house. Should you choose to sell, Rago will donate a percentage of its commission to Morven. 

Starting on January 10, Morven Museum and Garden will host free jewelry valuations by Katherine Van Dell, director of the jewelry department at Rago Auctions and a guest appraiser on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow. The program continues on February 14 and every second Tuesday of the month thereafter from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Should you choose to sell, Rago will donate a percentage of its commission to Morven.

“Unused heirlooms are a source of financing for vacations, tuition, or more jewelry,” says Katherine Van Dell, “Why not find out what the jewelry you’ll never wear is truly worth?”

“Morven is pleased to partner with our friends at Rago for this special program,” says Barbara Webb, Director of Development at Morven Museum and Garden, “Katherine and her team are uniquely qualified to assist you in understanding more about your jewelry and other family treasures.”

Katherine and her colleagues look forward to meeting clients in Princeton monthly. Call to schedule an appointment from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. or, if you prefer, drop by between 1–3 p.m. when no appointment is necessary.

For more information, or to schedule your appointment, contact Robin Harris at (609) 397-9374, ext. 119 or email robin@ragoarts.com. Should you wish to have one of Rago’s specialists come to Princeton to evaluate personal property other than jewelry (fine or decorative art, coins, silver, etc.), Rago can arrange that for you, as well, at Morven or in your home.

Rago is a leading U.S. auction house with $33 million in sales in 2015. It serves thousands of sellers and buyers yearly with global reach, personal service, and competitive commissions for single pieces, collections, and estates. Rago’s expertise encompasses 20th/21st century design; fine art; American, European, English, and Asian decorative arts and furnishings; fine jewelry, and coins/currency. An internationally known venue through which to buy and sell, it offers free valuations for personal property (from a single piece to collections), as well as USPAP compliant estate and appraisal services. Rago is located midway between Philadelphia and New York with satellite offices in Westchester/Connecticut.

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“WASHINGTON CROSSING BRIDGE IN THE WINTER”: This acrylic painting by Marcel Juillerat is currently on view at the Monmouth Museum. Gallery 13 North, in Lambertville, is representing Juillerat in their January exhibit, “Winter Light.”

Swiss-born Marcel Juillerat joins a roster of artists represented by Gallery 13 North in Lambertville. During his 40 years as a painter, Juillerat has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the region. This solo exhibition, called “Winter Light,” will be a collection centered around winter landscapes of New Jersey, specifically Jacobs Creek, Washington Crossing, as well as Baldpate Mountain area. more

Photo by Mitsu Yasukawa

As it pursues its mission to support playwrights, new plays, and the future of the American theater, McCarter Theatre Center’s LAB program will be putting to work a $35,000 grant, announced last month, from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The future of the American theater rests with the American playwright,” McCarter artistic director and resident playwright Emily Mann stated. “We take it as a core mission of this theater to develop and support new works and the playwrights who create them.”

LAB offers readings, workshops, a 10-day artists’ retreat in the spring, commissions and the annual LAB Spotlight Production. It also provides McCarter audiences with a window into the creative process. New works developed in the McCarter LAB have included pieces by Christopher Durang (Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike), Danai Gurira (Eclipsed), Nilo Cruz (Anna in the Tropics), Regina Taylor (Crowns), Tarrell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays) and more.

Noura, a new play by Iraqi-American playwright and performer Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire), will be featured at the end of this month as a LAB Spotlight Production. Created after years of work in Arab American communities in New York City, where Ms. Raffo discussed A Doll’s House with Middle Eastern women, Noura is “a timely re-imagining” of Ibsen’s play “through the lens of an Iraqi refugee family” and “a passionate exploration of contemporary feminism that reflects the dilemma facing modern America: do we live for each other or for ourselves?” more

The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank will host an epic Elvis Presley Birthday Bash starring expert impersonators, musicians Scot Bruce and Mike Albert on Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. Both are known for their uncanny resemblance to the young “King” and have earned endorsements by Elvis’s former back-up singers. Special requests will be taken by the audience. Ticket prices range from $20-$40. To purchase, visit www.countbasietheatre.org.

CONTEMPORARY PIANO MINIATURES: Westminster Conservatory’s faculty recital series continues with a performance  by pianist Marvin Rosen of works by contemporary women composers on Sunday, January 8 at 3 p.m. in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton.  Admission is free.

Westminster Conservatory’s faculty recital series continues with a performance by pianist Marvin Rosen on Sunday, January 8 at 3 p.m. in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton.  Admission is free. more

Cirque Éloize Saloon visits the State Theatre of NJ in New Brunswick on Wednesday, January 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, January 12 at 7:30 p.m. Through gravity-defying acrobatic prowess, inventive choreography, and live music (including renditions of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and “Crazy” by Patsy Cline), Montreal’s Cirque Éloize brings the rollicking world of Saloon to the stage, inspired by stories of America’s Wild West. To purchase tickets, visit www.statetheatrenj.org or call (732) 246-7469. State Theatre of NJ is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick.

December 28, 2016

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) was having a hard time hanging on to his job as a janitor in Quincy, Massachusetts, when he received word from a family friend (C.J. Wilson) that his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), had just suffered a heart attack after he fell on his fishing boat. Lee immediately rushed to the hospital to learn that his sibling had just passed away.

Joe had been raising his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges) by himself, because his wife (Gretchen Mol) had a serious substance abuse problem. Lee not only has to tell Patrick about the tragedy, but he has to tell him that, in accordance with his brother’s last wishes, he is now his guardian.

Reluctantly, Lee moves back to his hometown, Manchester by the Sea, a place where he’d already had more than his share of misfortune in the past. While trying to raise a headstrong 16-year-old, he is also forced to confront his personal problems, especially when he crosses paths with his ex-wife (Michelle Williams).

Thus unfolds Manchester by the Sea, a drama written and directed by two time Oscar nominee Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me and Gangs of New York). Another Academy Award nomination is likely for this heartrending portrait of a working-class hero.

Lee is not your typical protagonist. He’s an underachiever with a checkered past. Yet, by the same token, it is clear that he is determined to do his best for Lucas. Unfortunately, Lee is a man of few words who finds it difficult to communicate with his teenage nephew.

Nonetheless, Lonergan manages to explore Lee’s psyche in a novel way that not only makes him accessible, but likable. Credit must go to Casey Affleck, too, for his performance in a role where he was often forced to resort to non-verbal communication in situations where words escaped Lee.

Excellent (****). Rated R for sexuality and pervasive profanity. Running time: 137 minutes. Distributor: Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions.

I should like to be a free artist and nothing more …. — Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

Time for a premature New Year’s Eve toast by way of Chekhov’s “Champagne,” a story from the 1880s narrated by a “young, strong, hot-headed, giddy, and foolish” man in charge of a small railway station in the vast desolate remoteness of the steppe. His only diversions are getting wasted on vodka and watching the windows of the passenger trains for a glimpse of a pretty woman, for which he “would stand like a statue without breathing and stare … until the train turned into an almost invisible speck.” He and his wife are getting ready to see in the New Year. The fact that she adores him only magnifies his boredom. He has two bottles of champagne, “the real thing,” Veuve Clicquot, and as the hands of the clock point to five minutes to twelve he begins uncorking a bottle, which slips from his grasp and hits the floor, but he manages to grab it, fills two glasses, and delivers a toast, “May the New Year bring you happiness,” oh-oh, his wife’s upset, a dropped bottle is unlucky, “a bad omen,” she says. “It means some misfortune will happen to us this year.” more

“CALIFORNIA DREAMING”: This oil on canvas by Jeaninne Honstein will be on display at Stuart Country Day School’s Considine Gallery for their winter gallery exhibition, “Of Shape and Space.” Honstein, who is a Princeton painter and sculpture, will be exhibiting alongside award-winning architect, artist, and author, Lauri Matisse. The show will run from January 29 to February 21.

Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart announces the winter gallery exhibition in Stuart’s Considine Gallery will include the works of artists Jeaninne Honstein and Lauri Matisse. “Of Shape and Space,” a new exhibit at the Considine Gallery in Princeton, explores the spatial relationship between human figures on the canvas and the sculpted forms of painted vessels and urns. The human figures suggest living vessels while the artistic rendering of colorful urns creates warmth and liveliness.  more

PHILLY COMES TO PRINCETON: The January 2017 Meeting of the Princeton Photography Club will include a talk by Philadelphia street photographer, Susan Nam. An example of her work is shown here.

Susan Nam is a documentary and street photographer who has lived in Philadelphia since 2007. Raised by a single mother and growing up as a Korean-American, Nam’s photographs reflect her strong interest and appreciation for different cultures and unique family dynamics. Nam’s work has a huge emphasis and focus on community — not only documenting it, but more importantly being part of it. more

The American Boychoir had busy weeks in December, performing its annual holiday concerts at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton (December 18) and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (December 19). Both concerts included performances of Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols with harp, a piece they performed in Princeton earlier in the month for the popular series “What Makes It Great?” with host Rob Kapilow. Interspersed between movements of the Britten work were other popular carols, including “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” “Silent Night,” and “The Holly and the Ivy.” The Boychoir led the audience in a sing-along of “O Come All Ye Faithful” — many of the boys in the choir said that this was their favorite part of the concerts. more

Photo Credit: Sydney Becker

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Mad Forest by Caryl Churchill, with set and lighting design by senior Sydney Becker and directed by junior Nico Krell, on January 12, 13, and 15 at 8 p.m. and January 14 at 2 and 8 p.m. Performances will take place in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio located at 185 Nassau Street. A discussion with Associate Professor of English Tamsen Wolff will follow the January 12th performance.

Mad Forest offers a personal look into the events of the 1989 Romanian Revolution as two families witness the radical collapse of their entire way of life. The play’s three acts occur shortly before, during, and after the revolution. Through these personal stories the play paints an incisive portrait of a society in turmoil to reveal what life is like under a totalitarian regime and what results when that regime is gone. When rebellion brings down a dictator, the characters are left to grapple with what is left in the void and how they will use their newfound freedom. more

Playwright Naomi Iizuka

Award-winning playwrights Naomi Iizuka and Sarah Ruhl have been selected by the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and McCarter Theatre Center as the next Roger S. Berlind ’52 Playwrights-in-Residence. Both writers will engage with Princeton students in the coming year through teaching, master classes, or workshops and will write and develop a new play.

This program, made possible by the support of Roger S. Berlind, Princeton Class of 1952, recognizes exciting established playwrights whose work has had significant impact on the field.

“I’m delighted in welcoming back to Princeton two artists we worked with when they were still ‘emerging,’” commented Michael Cadden, Chair of the Lewis Center. “Naomi was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton in 1998 and our Program in Theater produced Sarah’sMelancholy Play as its Fall Show in 2002. It’s been a pleasure to see them evolve into two of the best playwrights in America today.” more

December 21, 2016

In 1987, Fences won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. The August Wilson classic, set in Pittsburgh in the 50s, described the day-to-day struggles of a blue-collar African-American family. The production was brought back to Broadway in 2010 and it received Tony awards for Best Revival — and for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as the Best Actor and Best Actress.

Directed by Washington, the movie reunites Denzel with Viola and most of of the principal stage cast, including Mykelti Williamson, Stephen Henderson, and Russell Hornsby. The faithful adaptation of the Wilson masterpiece doesn’t attempt to amplify the original beyond a few tweaks that were made for the filmed version.

The story is about the trials and tribulations of Troy (Washington), a 53-year-old garbage man who aspires to being promoted to the position of truck driver. Unfortunately, he’s “colored,” and that position has, to date, been filled by whites. So, Troy and his co-worker Bono (Stephen Henderson) have to settle for grumbling about the racism that has kept them from advancing in their jobs.

Troy didn’t always have such modest dreams. In his youth, he’d exhibited promise as a baseball player. However, his hope of becoming a pro disappeared when he was convicted for committing a murder. He did try out for the major leagues when he was paroled at 40, but that proved to be an exercise in futility.

As a result, Troy takes to whiskey, that he drinks straight from the bottle. Rose (Davis), his long-suffering wife, is understandably worried that he will drink himself to death. The picture’s other pivotal characters include the couple’s teenage son (Jovan Adepo), Troy’s adult son (Hornsby) from his first marriage, and Troy’s mentally challenged brother, Gabe (Williamson), a wounded World War II veteran who has a metal plate in his head.

The plot thickens when Troy informs Rose that he has a mistress who is pregnant. Will this be the last straw that breaks the back of their shaky relationship?

Denzel and Viola deliver emotionally-provocative performances that will probably get them Academy Award nominations. The movie paints a plausible picture of black life in the inner city in the 50s.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for profanity, ethnic slurs, mature themes, and sexual references. Running time: 138 minutes. Distributor: Paramount Pictures.