A zero-budget thriller whose ambitions far outstrip its means, "Black Beans and Rice" looks like a storyboarded outline for a film. Uneven thesping, hollow-sounding track and gross disproportion between what is taking place on-screen versus off-screen makes for disappointing brew, though sex scenes play well. Distrib outlook's dim.

A zero-budget thriller whose ambitions far outstrip its means, “Black Beans and Rice” looks like a storyboarded outline for a film with scenes barely blocked out and only rudimentarily run through by actors. Script similarly has hardly evolved from treatment stage. Paired-off characters talk some and copulate some, with gun-pointing and artfully draped corpses substituting for action. Uneven thesping, hollow-sounding undernourished track, and gross disproportion between what is visibly taking place on-screen versus what’s supposedly happening off-screen makes for disappointing brew, though sex scenes play well. Distrib outlook’s dim.

White female reporter gets involved with black small-time drug dealer to uncover the truth about a gang war. Her best girlfriend, a racist cop with fantasies about making it with a black man, is trying to solve the case, both girls also screwing a white art gallery owner on the side. Drug dealer, who occupies film’s center, constellates remaining dramatis personae around him — a beautiful black girlfriend, a paralyzed stepfather, and black-and-white memories of an unfeeling, murdered mother.

Black Beans and Rice

Production

A Sushi Films presentation of a Panoramic View/Rocksteady Entertainment production. Produced by Doug Thompson. Executive producers, Cathy French, Thompson. Co-producer, French. Directed, written by Doug Thompson.

Crew

Camera (color, B&Wvideo), Thomson; editor, Walter J. Collings; music, Gary Corbett; costume designer, Dee Thomas; casting, Collins Lloyd. Reviewed at Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, (Sunshine Celluloid ), Nov.9, 2002. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Kevens, Sharon Sampson, Joanna Theobalds, Lisa Boggio, Ken Benjamin, Tony Pacheco.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more