She's Gotta Have It [1986]

Spike Lee made a splash in the independent film world with his debut feature, an inventive low-budget romance with a strong-willed heroine. Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) can't decide among her three boyfriends: serious but sweet Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), self-centered clotheshorse Greer (John Canada Terrell), and goofy, wisecracking bike messenger Mars Blackmon (Lee). Within this loose story line Lee launches into a character study of Darling and offers a slice of black urban life rarely seen on the screen. According to Lee's published diary, he interviewed dozens of women and gathered feedback on screenplay from female friends, and his efforts show. Nola is an unapologetic, sexually independent character who resists the efforts of the men in her life to change who she is to please them--the wonderful concluding twist thumbs its nose at romantic conventions and gives Nola her due. Lee combines direct address and documentary techniques with a simple, often elegant narrative style to create a multilayered portrait of Nola and her men and question perceptions and conventions of sex, sexuality, and relationships in the modern world. Though somewhat primitive in the light of his more accomplished works, this first feature introduces Lee as a fresh voice and a creative force to be reckoned with. --Sean Axmaker Beyond She's Gotta Have It Essentials by Director: Spike Lee More African American Cinema More from MGM

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