Review: ‘Joy’

In producer/writer/helmer/star Jackie Alexander's zero-budget character study, a successful black lawyer learns the hard way that class doesn't trump race in America. When his beautiful, full-of-life fiancee Joy is shot and killed by a racist cop during a routine pull-over days before their wedding and the cop is exonerated, hero's belief-system falls apart. Unfortunately, pic lacks organic development, depending on generally likeable cast with pasted-on peculiarities to string together bits of exposition.

In producer/writer/helmer/star Jackie Alexander’s zero-budget character study, a successful black lawyer learns the hard way that class doesn’t trump race in America. When his beautiful, full-of-life fiancee Joy is shot and killed by a racist cop during a routine pull-over days before their wedding and the cop is exonerated, hero’s belief-system falls apart. Unfortunately, pic lacks organic development, depending on generally likeable cast with pasted-on peculiarities (hero is addicted to mother’s cooking, hero’s father endearingly tinkers with cars) to string together bits of exposition. Cable is an outside possibility.

Bulk of pic concerns couple’s idyllic, affluent lifestyle, and here players’ charm pays off, particularly that of Lizzy Davis’ aptly named Joy. Alexander’s upwardly mobile Kevin is less convincing — his elitist assumption that he’s “earned” respect is ill defined and nebulously portrayed. The trajectory of his eventual race consciousness is so predictable that he seems like a willful idiot to take so long to get with the program. Tech credits fail to turn liabilities into assets.

Joy

Production

An Across the Tracks production. Produced, directed, written by Jackie Alexander.

Crew

Camera (color, video), Ian A. Dudley; editor, Gregory Speed; music, Weldon Irvine; sound, Doug Forbes. Reviewed at African Diaspora Film Festival, New York, Dec. 11, 2002. Running time: 71 MIN.

With

Jackie Alexander, Lizzy Davis, Reginald James, Sheba Riley, Arlene O'Haire, Lee Dobson.
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