Directed, Written and Edited by: John Sayles
Starring: Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Yaya DaCosta (pictured), Lisa Gay Hamilton
and introducing Gary Clark, Jr.
Supporting cast includes: Eric Abrams, Kel Mitchell, Ruben
Santiago-Hudson, Davenia McFadden, Vondie Curtis Hall and Sean Patrick Thomas
It was early Friday evening, and the howl began to bark.
Stack O Lee and me was squabbling in the dark.
First he took all my money then he spit on my Stetson hat,
Stack O Lee told me a lie. Oh, what do you think about
– from Stack O Lee performed by Keb Mo in the motion picture Honeydripper
I always hated that damn song,
says husband and father Tyrone Purvis, answering his visual sub-conscience in
the deliciously wholesome independent period film Honeydripper.
Never a truer phrase has been
spoken in this cinematic treasure set in 1950 Harmony, Alabama. Songs have lots of talking to do, especially
to a man who is experiencing hard times. And things are hard for a juke joint owner and old time piano player,
portrayed beautifully by veteran actor Danny Glover.
The films plot is rooted around
one weekend that will either save or kill him. Unlike other weekends, hell
lie, steal and almost cheat to keep his head above water and extend the life of
his dream for ownership. Although its set over 50 years ago, Honeydripper keeps it real to all of us
who understand struggle.
The mixture of a great supporting
cast, moving musical score and the unrelenting drive to succeed are all present
and make Honeydripper a must see
classic. However, the powerful performances, poetic portrayal of Alabama heat
in the summer and do-or-die attitude make this film the heavyweight champion of
2008, thus far.
If the proof of lasting power is
in the acting and scenery, then Honeydripper
is on my A-list.
The American dream pursuit story
is engaging. Down on his luck due to debt and a lifetime of bad decisions,
music man Tyrone could really use a break. His club has a lousy act, no patrons
and an outdated ambiance. The spot across the way is hyped with flash,
synthetic sounds and plenty of liquor.
With a little help of his friend
Maceo (Charles S. Dutton), his wife Delilah (Lisa Gay Hamilton), his daughter
China Doll (Yaya DaCosta) and a stranger, Sonny Blake (Gary Clark, Jr.), who is
also electric; Tyrone concocts a one-night-only get rich scheme. Mounting
pressures from debt collectors, sickness and modern music-making devises bring
things to a head. Tyrone and his juke joint eat at his family life, which
results in tragic consequences.
John Sayles adaptation of Americas
deep south is slower and lazier than it is passionate and heated. Although the
live performances in this film are a charging sight, it is no substitute for R-rated
sex. You wont find any in this movie.
Danny Glover successfully portrays
Tyrone in a James Evan-esque vein, working his plan from upstanding husband to
convincing hustler with everything to lose. But it is his wife, Delilah played
by Lisa Gay Hamilton with her married-to-the-game demeanor and brewing fire
that steals the show. Both actors create a comfortable yet jarring narrative
that allows you wholly to believe and relate to the characters. You want them
Honeydripper could be a
classic. For its status as one of 2008s first painfully independent films, the
efforts to get it to movie screens for the American masses should be applauded. The official release date has been moved a
couple of times as the screenings and limited release showings creep
across the nation, but according to IMDB.com it’s looking like an April
Regardless of the quality of the
acting and the power of the musical themes, if theres no audience at the
theatres, this gem will go unnoticed. If you fancy some glorious Technicolor
and great acting, go and watch Honeydripper
when it hits your town – even if only to see YaYa DaCosta light up the screen.