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American Violet

4.7 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Falsely accused of distributing narcotics in a school zone, Dee Roberts (Beharie) is offered a deal she can't refuse: plead guilty and accept a 10-year suspended sentence. The alternative: risk serving 16-to-25 in jail. Realizing a conviction would ruin her life, Dee decides to fight back. Suing the DA for racial discrimination, Dee battles impossible odds in a case that will not only change her life but the laws of Texas as well.

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American Violet may be based on the story of outrageous injustices committed against Regina Kelly of Hearne, Texas, but that does not make it a good film. It is, at best, a bad film with an important message. American Violet is about a single mother of four, Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), who is wrongly convicted of drug charges due to police racism and corruption. As she struggles to stay out of prison with the help of her mother, Alma (Alfre Woodard), Dee exemplifies a stalwart woman who refuses to plead guilty when offered a plea bargain. While names of characters and the town itself are changed, the story in American Violet is allegedly altered only slightly in hopes of maintaining its tragic truth, that a plea-bargain system in Texas forced, in this case, impoverished and sometimes innocent African Americans to accept guilty charges and their negative aftereffects. American Violet's melodramatic sensibility attempts to spark the same indignation that fuels ACLU lawyer David Cohen (Tim Blake Nelson) to embark on a lawsuit against the head racist, district attorney Calvin Beckett (Michael O'Keefe). Cohen, with the help of a former narcotics officer, Sam Conroy (Will Patton), discovers enough evidence to disturb any viewer. While it is crucial to have artful dialogue about this politically offensive topic, American Violet is not finely scripted or cinematically engaging enough to elevate it above second-hand documentary. Still, since the film does cover meaningful territory, there may be a place for it in classrooms, or it may inspire others to work on further exposing gross injustice for the benefit of our society. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Nicole Beharie, Will Patton, Alfre Woodard, Charles S. Dutton, Xzibit
  • Directors: Tim Disney
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
  • DVD Release Date: October 13, 2009
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002FUIJ24
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,019 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Violet" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Wouldn't it be terrible to find yourself jailed for something you did not do, based solely on the word of a lying, mentally ill drug addict? That's what happened to Regina Kelly in Hearne, Texas back in 2000. Ensnared in a mass arrest of suspected drug dealers at her housing project, the young single mother was charged with selling drugs in a school zone. Despite her insistence that she was innocent, her court-appointed attorney pressured her to accept a plea bargain to avoid many years in prison and the loss of her children. With no criminal record and no drugs found on or near her, she refused the deal. Instead, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union she filed a class action lawsuit.

Although Kelly's case was reported in a documentary by PBS' cutting-edge Frontline back in 2004, American Violet brings a fictionalized version to a broader, mass audience. Co-director Bill Haney (along with Tim Disney) says he heard about Kelly's case on National Public Radio as he was driving; it so moved him that he pulled his car over to the side of the road and cried.

In this film, "Dee Roberts" (a magnificent Nicole Beharie) is the plaintiff in a class-action case over racial discrimination in drug enforcement. Tim Blake Nelson plays David Cohen, the ACLU lawyer who sues district attorney Calvin Beckett (Michael O'Keefe) on her behalf.

Kelly is quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying the film is "90 percent accurate." The depositions, the courtroom scene in which she fights to retain custody of her children, and many other scenes are word-for-word accounts.

Like Clint Eastwood's
...Read more ›
Comment 35 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Seen a viewing of 'AMERICAN VIOLET' recently.. And I had mixed emotions: upset, melancholy, ecstatic, and surprised! To be falsely accused of a crime, that you know deep in your heart you did NOT commit, is one thing... But when your so-called lawyer suggests you to take a plea bargain, oppose to fighting for your clearance makes one wonder who can you trust... This movie, based on factual events, is heartwrenching, as it is an eye-opener!!! I'd recommend that everyone sees this flick, even teens!!! Granted this ocurred in Melody, Texas, it's taking place worldwide...

PS... Superb performances by all: Nicole Beharie, Alfre Woodard, Will Patton, even Anthony Mackey!!! Applause, followed by a standing ovation!!!
1 Comment 27 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
This is quite simply the most moving and powerful film I've seen this year. In fact, the film had me from the opening credits, where scenes of a young black mother getting her kids up out of bed and ready for the day are juxtaposed with scenes of police getting their armaments ready for an assault on a government housing project.

"American Violet" is based on a true story, and while the film makers combined some characters and condensed the passage of time for dramatic purposes, the key events of the film are as they happened in real life.

It's just another day in Bush Texas, where counties were given government money for making drug convictions. Worse, citizens could be accused and arrested based on the testimony of a single informant, in this case a young paranoid schizophrenic whose testimony would never hold up in court.

How then did the government prevail in these cases? By offering suspects a plea bargain: plead guilty and pay a fine but serve no jail time. What they didn't tell those who accepted the pleas were the terrible consequences: no further government benefits, no government housing subsidies, felonies on their records, and no further right to vote as American citizens.

Appallingly, this film reveals that ninety percent of all the cases in the American "justice" system are resolved by these profoundly inequitable plea bargains. What's more, an African-American man is more likely to serve time in jail in contemporary America than to graduate from college.

This story focuses on the young mother accused of dealing drugs.
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1 Comment 19 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I seen this movie in the theathers and I cried so much, The movie was great, the actors were very good too. This is a true story that needed to be told. I will buy this on Blu ray when it comes out.
Comment 10 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Blu-ray
I rented this unknown film in Blu-ray from Blockbuster because of the cast: Alfre Woodard, Charles Dutton, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael O'Keefe and Will Patton who are all excellent in this true story of an woman unjustly accused of being a drug pusher. The actress, Nicole Beharie, is excellent in her debut and the story is almost just as riveting as Clint Eastwood's "Changeling". I guess what keeps me from giving this a full 5 star review is that the direction is somewhat TV movish but regardless I still recommend this true story of injustice to everyone who is interested in the law of the land. The Blu-ray is excellent and the film is shown in wide-screen format (2.35).
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