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"Life Support"

Directed by Nelson George.
Written by Nelson George, Jim McKay and Hannah Weyer.
Starring Queen Latifah, Wendell Pierce, Rachel Nicks and Evan Ross.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  1/31/07

Folks-- 

Now THIS is what Sundance is all about--a world premiere of a sorta-big film with big stars, big publicity and a standing ovation.  This was the only film I saw at Sundance where not only the director was present for a Q&A, but also the lead stars and the executive producer, Jamie Foxx.

HBO Films is the producer of "Life Support" (which might actually go straight to cable, as opposed to theaters), an AIDS drama about Ana (Queen Latifah), an HIV-positive advocacy worker who struggles with not only her disease but her family life, including her relationship with her husband Slick (Wendell Pierce, from "The Wire")--Slick is the one who gave Ana the virus in the first place--and her two daughters, Kelly (newcomer Rachel Nicks) and Kim (Rayelle Parker).  All of this, mixed with the drama of trying to find Kelly's gay best friend Omori (Evan Ross), makes for one hell of a summer in New York City.

Directed by Nelson George, "Life Support" is a good mix of drama and sex education movie; George has a few scenes in the support center where Latifah's character and her co-workers educate fellow Brooklynites about the dos and don'ts of sex in today's world, all of which feel right from a realism perspective even as they are a bit preachy.  The performances of everyone EXCEPT Latifah are excellent, especially Nicks, who (as we learned after the screening) auditioned for this role two days before her graduation from Julliard, got the part, then graduated...she has real potential as an actress, as she's the best thing about "Life Support."  Latifah actually is the only slightly-weak link here; her character's emotions and situations seem a tad bit forced in some of the movie's vital scenes, but it is nothing too distracting, it's just not quite right.

The film overall is good, not great, mostly because it spends too much of its second half on the Omori sequences as Kelly, and then Ana, try to find him.  But otherwise, "Life Support" should perform well either on TV or in theaters when it gets picked up.

 

Rating:  $9.00 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09