Entertainment » Movies

Poetic Justice

by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Feb 11, 2019
Poetic Justice

After writer/director John Singleton made his breakout film, "Boyz n the Hood," he was given the money and tools to pretty much do whatever he wanted at Sony Pictures. Singleton was a young black filmmaker; not only did something like that not happen often, but it forced Singleton to try to make his mark with films that didn't mirror his first effort. In comes "Poetic Justice," his semi-successful attempt to tell a love story that takes place on the streets of South-Central LA in the early '90s, a place defined in the media by the drug-related violence that transpired there.

As much as "Poetic Justice" focuses on the relationship between Justice (Janet Jackson) and Lucky (Tupac Shakur), the film invests a lot of time and energy in characters that would be pushed off to the side or seem tangential in a lesser effort. Lucky delivers mail by day and worries about finding his young child a livable housing situation away from the baby's meth-addled mother. He's also an up-and-coming musical talent. When he meets Justice, he jumps headfirst into trying to be with her. Justice initially blocks his romantic advances as she's still coping with the loss of her last boyfriend, who was shot and killed, but then starts to warm up to him when they're forced to spend the day with each other by Justice's best friend, Iesha (Regina King). Most of the story takes place over this one day, as Justice and Lucky start to find a middle ground.

Singleton, who hadn't even written "Poetic Justice" when he met Janet Jackson, paints a very well-rounded portrait of characters struggling to escape the fate that their friends and family suffer as being black in LA. Jackson and Shakur, who have an electric chemistry every time they're on the screen together, lend the film the emotional heft it so desperately needs. The standout though, is Regina King's compelling performance as Iesha. In Iesha's case, she's a dangerous drunk who pokes at her boyfriend until his rage propels the story to an incredible climax. King has a knack for lighting up the screen even when she's pushed to the side to play someone's shrew of a girlfriend or someone inconsequential to the story.

Remastered for the first time since its 1993 release, "Poetic Justice" comes with brief but insightful features that I recommend. Singleton is given time to reflect on his earlier films in "Revisiting 'Poetic Justice' with John Singleton," and during the pretty tireless audio commentary. There's even nearly fifteen minutes of never-seen-before deleted scenes I'm sure any fan of the film will love.

"Poetic Justice"


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