She's Gotta Have It
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SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT formally introduced the name Spike Lee to audiences all over the world. The film, an intelligent comedy shot in black-and-white with one sequence of color, places--for among the first time--a young, bright African-American woman in the cinematic spotlight. Nola Darling (Tracy Camila Johns) is an attractive young woman with a problem--three problems to be exact. She is simultaneously being wooed by three hopeful, but hopeless, male suitors: Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), a sensitive type who wants to settle down with her; Greer (John Canada Terrell), a narcissistic model who sees her as his trophy; and Mars Blackmon (Lee himself), an aggressive and funny bike messenger who makes her laugh. Nola is attracted to the best in each of them, but is unable to make up her mind as to whom she likes best. She even entertains the notion that something may be wrong with her, thinking perhaps she's oversexed. When a visit to a therapist fails to clear her mind, Nola finally comes
Spike Lee made a splash in the independent film world with his debut feature, an inventive low-budget romance with a strong-willed heroine. Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) can't decide among her three boyfriends: serious but sweet Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), self-centered clotheshorse Greer (John Canada Terrell), and goofy, wisecracking bike messenger Mars Blackmon (Lee). Within this loose story line Lee launches into a character study of Darling and offers a slice of black urban life rarely seen on the screen. According to Lee's published diary, he interviewed dozens of women and gathered feedback on screenplay from female friends, and his efforts show. Nola is an unapologetic, sexually independent character who resists the efforts of the men in her life to change who she is to please them--the wonderful concluding twist thumbs its nose at romantic conventions and gives Nola her due. Lee combines direct address and documentary techniques with a simple, often elegant narrative style to create a multilayered portrait of Nola and her men and question perceptions and conventions of sex, sexuality, and relationships in the modern world. Though somewhat primitive in the light of his more accomplished works, this first feature introduces Lee as a fresh voice and a creative force to be reckoned with. --Sean Axmaker
Beyond She's Gotta Have It
Essentials by Director: Spike Lee
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a refreshing look at a black woman who insists on taking control of her sexuality rather than allowing it to be defined by men. There are general male observations, general female observations, and specific cultural outlooks on the art of love and war from an African-American perspective.
Tracy Camilla Johns, beautifully portraying the wonderfully developed character, Nola Darling, is perfectly cast as the independent black woman who, in her quest to be sexually independent, realizes this is an uphill journey when dealing with men who still have traditional ideas about women and their roles. She was actively dating more than one man simply because she had adapted the attitude that no one man can provide everything she wanted/needed and furthermore, it was terribly unfair to label her promiscuous for doing so. Interestingly enough, Nola also found that her own reactions when coming up against the same attitude in men, were amazingly traditional.
This was a very well-written statement on the ups and downs of love. It also introduces us to Law & Order's Divine Epatha Merkerson in a short but pivotal role as a sex therapist.
Much luv brotha!
Just when you think you have Nola figured out she reveals more of herself, to the surprise of the viewer as well as her suitors, who also unfold more dimensions - good and bad. "She's Gotta Have It" is worthwhile from the standpoint of character development alone, as well as being a very funny, sexy love story, and a nice flick shot in Brooklyn.
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