'Rosewood' is based on a true story of a black town in Florida that was
burned to the ground after a white woman falsely accused a black man of rape.
The tragedy happened in 1923 and was relatively unknown until the incident
was brought to life again seventy years later.
Director John Singleton ('Boyz N the Hood', 'Poetic Justice', 'Higher
Learning') has made a searing, emotional and harrowing motion picture filled
with a nightmarish theme of mob justice that plays out as a slice of American
life that many will find hard to believe.
A white shopkeeper (Jon Voight) is conscience stricken by what he sees
and helps the town's black citizens escape persecution and death. A black
World War I veteran (Ving Rhames) passes through the area and becomes part of
the rescue effort, assisting Voight. Another intriguing member of the cast
(Don Cheadle) is compelling as a strong willed member of the town who refuses
to give in to prejudice.
The flaws in 'Rosewood' are few and far between as Singleton directs
this movie as an absorbing and meticulously refined drama of detailed
proportions. His recreation of a time and place in history is as vivid and
convincing as the most researched documentary there is.
This motion picture is an early contender as one of 1997's best films
and could become Singleton's masterpiece although 'Boyz N the Hood' (1991)
will rank as quite an achievement for the young director who received two
Oscar nominations for that film as director and as the film's writer. At the
time, he was the youngest director nominated in the history of the Academy,
making 'Boyz N the Hood' when he was 23. He is a promising and creative mind
for the future of American cinema and his talent is derived largely from
choosing socially powerful subjects and bringing their aspects to the
public's attention and 'Rosewood' is perhaps the best film dealing with
racism since 'Do the Right Thing' (1989) and the best film about mob justice
since 'The Ox-Bow Incident' (1943).
The first half of 'Rosewood' is an introduction and visual structure of
a story whose message of violence leading to cause and effect explodes in the
second half with unforgettable results.
Copyright © 1997 Walter Frith