Monday, May 23, 2016

Movie review: She's Gotta Have It

Nola is a young, free-thinking woman who can't seem to decide between the three men she is dating. Will it be Mars the bike messenger, traditionalist Jamie, or male model Greer? Or, could she choose all three?

Tracy Johns (Nola), Tommy Hicks (Jamie), John Terrell (Greer), Spike Lee (Mars), Raye Dowell (Opal), Joie Lee (Clorinda), S. Epatha Merkerson (Doctor Jamison), Bill Lee (Sonny).

She's Gotta Have It is one of Spike Lee's first films and it shows. The plot line is somewhat interesting but remains largely undefined in the film due to a lack of communication between characters. Essentially Nola is highly sought after as a partner for some reason, but never really communicates why she is unable to choose between her 3 suitors while hinting maybe she shouldn't have to choose. Toss in a couple of others who are potential or past suitors, make sure everyone knows about everyone else, and the story becomes a confusing mess of indecision and intimacy.

Acting was pretty rough in this one. Johns wasn't bad but she really couldn't convey the sexual energy and attraction the plot implied. Hicks was interesting and did fairly well. Terrell felt a bit out of place, which led to his character feeling out of place. Lee was interesting but also felt rough with both delivery and emotion. The result was a serious lack of connection with the characters.

The film was one of Lee's first, made when he was young, and obviously with a low budget. From that perspective technical work was pretty good. At the same time, it was difficult to watch. Lingering shots on objects, black and white scenes mixed with color, and a strange focus on sexuality made it a strange mix indeed. Dialogue was mediocre and left a lot not only unexplained, but defied common sense at times. Sound and soundtrack were okay.

She's Gotta Have It was recommended to me by someone at a Con as a good representation of an alternative lifestyle. Sadly, I have to disagree. The film felt more like a relationship mess that never got talked about, let alone cleaned up. Fans of Spike Lee, or black classics, may enjoy this one.

With plenty of sexuality, nudity, adult situations, and mild violence, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 1986
Reviewed: 5.17.16
Star rating: 2 out of 5
Genre: Indie Romance, Indie Comedy, Comedy, Romance

copyright ©2016 Dave Riedel

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