Black men give sexually hungry looks from every street corner, social event and family outing imaginable in “Cover,” the story of a housewife (Aunjanue Ellis) with every reason to be angry being interrogated for a crime she didn’t commit. “I’m a Christian, not a murderer,” insists the suspect, who had a happy marriage until her husband started running with some sketchy old friends. But the warning signs of infidelity tell only half the story, and “Cover” takes a scandalous turn into hot-button territory, one its limited African-American audience will likely find more important than entertaining.
Written like a play and shot like a procedural, modest indie production flubs nearly all the genre’s requirements, obscuring even the victim’s identity until the last reel. That’s because the flimsy mystery is itself a cover for the movie’s true subject: dealing with cheaters on the “down low.” By the end, nearly every male character (except Lou Gossett Jr.’s detective) has been outed as having homosexual tendencies, ratcheting the threat level to red for their God- and HIV-fearing loved ones. Director Bill Duke aims for social awareness, but delivers second-rate melodrama instead.
— Peter Debruge