Poetic Justice [1993]

Director John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood, Rosewood) made an earnest effort in this, his second, film to say a great deal that is true and relevant about living and loving in a violent, difficult time in American history. Janet Jackson plays a beautician and poet who withdraws into herself after her boyfriend is murdered by gangsters. The late Tupac Shakur plays a postman who tries to get through to her, and the two travel on a course through urban America, connecting with family and community. Singleton has so much on his mind that the film comes out a terrible muddle, but there is a certain integrity peeking through the fog. Shakur makes a startlingly good impression in his film debut, and Jackson strips away her star veneer to play something like a real person--and entirely succeeds. Maya Angelou wrote the poems that pass as those penned by Jackson's character, and she also appears in the film. --Tom Keogh

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