Honeydripper (2007)

Dir. John Sayles

If Sayles is not the most talented filmmaker/writer, he’s at least a grown-up who cares about writing, story and characters. This film doesn’t challenge view, but, unfortunately, it just doesn’t work. For one thing, the story is sort of cliched: a bar owner and former piano player (Danny Glover) in the 50s needs to have a big night to prevent losing his place to a loan shark. His plan is to bring in a famous R&B singer, hoping to make money on the admission and alcohol. But he takes a lot of risks to make this happen, including taking money his wife has saved for her daughter’s future. The situation worsens when the singer doesn’t show, and Glover uses a young stranger, who says he can play music, to pose as the famous singer.

There are several problems with this film. First, the story is pretty cliched, which is not so bad in and of itself. The problem is that the characters, although pretty likable (particularly Glover and Charles Dutton), their appeal doesn’t rise about the pedestrian quality of the film. I would say the same about the insights offered about the time period and culture (the 50’s rural South). Not only are the observations not that interesting, the film drags at times. (I think it could have been shorter.) Finally, the film’s cover art gives the indication that R&B would be prominent in the film. It’s not, and it’s just OK.

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