Fox Searchlight Pictures and Eve’s Bayou Director Kasi Lemmons retells Langston Hughes’s beautiful story, Black Nativity. The remake stars Jennifer Hudson, Jacob Latimore, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Tyrese Gibson.
Young Langston (Latimore) is forced to leave his mother, Naima (Hudson) in Baltimore to relocate with his estranged grandparents (Whitaker and Bassett) in New York City. Falling into some bad habits, it is up to Langston to restore his broken family, bring some clarity to his mother’s misfortune, and find out the truth about his biological father. Through spiritual songs and creative movement, Black Nativity celebrates and retells the illuminating birth of Jesus Christ.
I enjoyed the complexity and complicated work of Kasi Lemmons’ previous projects such as Eve’s Bayou. However, Black Nativity lacked general flow and understanding. A very long church scene included distorted points of view. The audience will be confused as the movie transitions from dream scenes to present situations. There was no clear delineations between musical numbers and when the movie switched from fantasy to reality.
Since What’s the 411?, I have been an avid Mary J. Bilge fan. But I questioned her and rapper Nas’ existence in Black Nativity. Both musicians made me question their connection to the overall story-line.
As Christians, we too fall short of the glory of God. Naima’s family was torn as a result of her teenage pregnancy. Furthermore, the parents ostracized her for failing to uphold her preacher’s daughter image. Also, it is not our role as onlookers to past further judgement on others, yet we are to forgive them for their transgressions and empower our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to live righteously (James 4:11).
2.5 STARS: Black Nativity had strong moments. But, overall, the movie did not collectively meet my expectations.