Poetic Justice

Last week’s film was a brutal study on poverty and a broken prison system. It wasn’t a bad ride by any stretch but it was heavy – and in the lead up to the festive season, whatever that’s going to look like, we thought we’d take a step in a different direction.

The Christmas movies will no doubt start showing their faces in the coming weeks but for today I chose a romance with probably the most banging central couple in history. This gal grew up on both 2Pac and JJ’s music so this is going to be an delight to revisit, and with an added appearance from Maya Angelou – what could go wrong?

Uhhh…

‘Cause nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.

In this movie, we see the world through the eyes of main character Justice (Janet Jackson), a young African-American poet. A mail carrier invites a few friends along for a long overnight delivery run.

Directed by: John Singleton
Starring: Janet JacksonTupac ShakurRegina KingMaya Angelou

*Spoilers*

Justice (Ms. Jackson) lives in South Central, LA and is a hairdresser in a small salon run by a formidable boss. Named by her late mother, who had her while studying law, she’s left devastated when her boyfriend Markell (Q-Tip) is shot and killed at a drive-in movie. His death leaves her understandably depressed and she retreats within, spending most of her time in the apartment she inherited from her grandmother with her perfect cat, White Boy.

Doesn’t sound so bad really you know, apart from all the grief. Justice is a poet and her words are read throughout the film, either by her to her co-workers and friends – or as part of the narrator’s voice over. The poetry honestly, is the best part of the whole experience, I won’t lie.

One day postal worker Lucky (Shakur) comes into the salon and hits on her. He doesn’t take it well when Justice enthusiastically rejects him. In fact, if you have any objection to women being referred to as bitches, this probably isn’t the film for you. When J’s BFF Iesha (King) asks her to go on a parcel delivering road trip with her and her postman boyfriend Chicago (Joe Torry) – who should also be along for the ride? Only bloody Lucky!

The pair despise each other immediately and it isn’t long before Lucky is leaving her by the roadside, strongly suggesting that her fat arse could do with the walking exercise. Iesha barely manages to persuade the men to go back and pick her up. But little by little, as the quartet lean into their adventure, relations thaw – even more so when Iesha gets drunk at a BBQ they crash and hits on another boy.

It turns out Chicago isn’t the greatest guy and when he assaults Iesha after she admits she’s seeing someone else – then turns on Justice – he finds himself pounding the pavement. The only good thing to come from this is the bond growing between Justice and Lucky, who share a ‘moment’, though he still hasn’t told her he has a young daughter. When he finally spills the beans, J doesn’t have time to react as Lucky arrives home to find his cousin has been killed in another shooting.

This somewhat derails the budding romance, especially when he lashes out at our girl. Will he pull himself together and give love a chance? Equally, is Justice ready to file away her grief and move on?

You’ll have to see for yourselves!


Thoughts

I remember this film being better tbh. It doesn’t really do much although maybe that’s the point, it’s supposed to be a comment on grief, and gradually letting go to love again.

Justice is great but Lucky is a little too liberal with the ‘f’ word for my liking (not the good ‘f’ word, the homophobic one) and his aggressive behaviour towards women – J to begin with, his baby mama – made it hard for me to bond or sympathise with his character. I wanted to understand his motivation and that almost put me off forever.

He does redeem himself by taking his daughter out of a toxic environment and being nice to his own mama but that should be standard issue behaviour, I feel.

Lucky’s also living his life in the most honest way he can while trying to avoid the temptation of slipping into a more nefarious career so he gets props for that anyway.

Honestly, Tupac is an astonishingly good looking man and I’ve always been drawn to his charisma on screen. I just wish this had been a bit snappier given the cast. I have to also say that my desire for a lighter pick this week was thwarted in the first twenty minutes and the remaining run time was deeply sad, if hopeful.

I should have been rooting way harder for Justice and Lucky to get together but by the time we got there I was already thinking wistfully of Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

Sorry, guys.

2.5/5

What does my own beautiful poet think of this one? Would she construct the perfect hikau for it or make it the subject of a terrible limerick? Find out here.

3 thoughts on “Poetic Justice

  1. Hell yes–Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, I AM READY.
    Even though I cannot stop my brain from connecting the phrase “jingle jangle” with the world’s most ridiculous drug name on Riverdale.

    Liked by 2 people

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