By Norman Oliver 12-04-13
“Black Nativity” is based on the famed play by Langston Hughes. This new movie is produced by popular pastor and author T.D. Jakes and written/directed by Kasi Lemmons.
The story follows a young troubled youth named Langston (Jacob Latimore) as he is confronted with his mother’s extreme ﬁnancial problems. Due to impending eviction, his mother Naima (Jennifer Hudson) sends him to stay with her parents for the holidays. Naima has not spoken to her parents since she ran away as a pregnant teen ﬁfteen years ago. Langston has never met his grandparents and is strongly against this idea.
He travels from Baltimore to New York City to meet his grandparents Rev. Cornell Cobbs (Forrest Whitaker) and his wife played by Angela Basset. The family is very prominent in Harlem and the movie centers around the Reverend’s Christmas show.
Langston is met with multiple temptations to do wrong. He both succeeds and fails in different ways. Lansgton is determined to relieve his mother of her ﬁnancial problems no matter what the legality of the solution is.
The musical aspects of the ﬁlm are truly its highlights. The songs bring out emotions in every verse and the actors are clearly involved in what they are singing.
Themes of love, good versus evil and family all arise and ultimately provide an inspiring message to the viewer. The religious aspect of the film plays a major role, but is not overbearing.
The biggest disappointment of the ﬁlm is the script. With such poetic undertones, the dialogue could have been brought to life. It fails drastically. The musical aspect at some points does not ﬁt with the storyline and becomes awkward.
Hudson gives a less than satisfactory acting performance, and seems disengaged throughout the entire ﬁlm. You see barely any emotion in her face. It seems as if her facial expression never changes during the entire ﬁlm.
Whittaker gives a great performance as the patriarch and shows a surprisingly great musical side to his character.
Overall, the movie’s music is stellar but the script fails to do it justice.