Rosewood (1997) – Review

3 Stars

Rosewood is the most overlooked film in the career of late filmmaker John Singleton. After establishing himself with his Academy Award nominated debut, Boyz n the Hood, the director delivered a series of serious-minded films all dealing with the effects of racial division in America. Rosewood looks at a dreary conflict that actually took place during 1923 in a sleepy town in Florida.

Rosewood, Florida, is a peaceful town with an almost entirely African-American population of middle-class homeowners, until New Year’s Day 1923, when a lynch mob from a neighboring white community storms the town. Among the carnage, music teacher Sylvester (Don Cheadle) and mysterious stranger Mann (Ving Rhames) stand tall against the invaders, while white grocer John (Jon Voight) attempts to save the town’s women and children.

Ving Rhames character is a construct of the writer, Gregory Porier, and having this fictional person as the central figure of the narrative drains some of the power, and importance of the story. Despite that caveat, Rhames is excellent and is matched by Don Cheadle and Jon Voight, all of whom are captivating. Rosewood runs long but stays compelling despite the hateful acts being committed on-screen, and the over-all downbeat tone.

Director: John Singleton
Stars: Jon Voight, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle

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