|"NOTORIOUS" FILM REVIEW|
|Written by UrbanMusicReviews.com|
|Friday, 16 January 2009 00:00|
The filmmakers behind “Notorious” had a very unique and unenviable task before them: make a good film that will also appease the demands of fans of one of the biggest cultural icons in recent memory. The life and music of Christopher “Biggie” Wallace is almost like folklore in the Hip Hop community. Fans would be ready to tear the cast limb from limb if the film stinks, in turn, non-Hip Hop fans will walk into the theater ready to hate it. Surprisingly, both will walk out shocked by the fact that “Notorious” is that its actually a damn good movie.
The film is really a character-driven morality tale, so its stregth is heavily based on a strong cast. Anthony Mackie steals every scene he is in with his take on the erratic genius of Tupac Shakur, while Naturi Naughton’s take on Lil Kim is almost as impressive. Angela Bassett is pitch perfect as Biggie’s mother, Violetta Wallace and Antonique Smith is a stunning and powerful Faith Evans, but it is newcomer Jamal Woolard’s tour de force as the slain B.I.G. that makes the whole film work. His mannorisims, voice, facial expressions and laugh are almost errily similar to the real deal. The way he manages to capture the character without it coming off as an impression is nothing short of brilliant.
With such strong cast performances, it is a shame that the film is still tragically flawed. The filmakers’ attempts to appease fans by including every noteworthy moment in BIG’s life felt hamhanded and forced at times. A concious (and often obvious) attempt was made to over emphasise the BIG’s transition into self-awareness and maturity in these contexts. Also, Derek Luke falls just short of his mark as music mogul Sean “Puffy” Combs. Though his acting performance was solid, his “swagger” felt forced and not as effortless as the Puffy that we have come to know.
All in all, “Notorious” is solid, well acted, authentic film that should satisfy even the most cynical viewer.
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