Film Review: ‘Chapter & Verse’

Director Jamal Joseph – who is renowned for his change from imprisoned activist to esteemed professor, writer, director, and producer – has pieced his many hats, history and heritage into one for his new film “Chapter & Verse.”

Authenticity is key in Jamal Joseph’s Harlem tale that will have viewers engaged with good supporting performances and a strong plot centered on the often-difficult metamorphosis into a better version of oneself. His background from his time as a member of the Black Panther Party – and his life changing incarceration – to his position as chairman of Columbia University’s School of the Arts film division parallel the peregrination of his main character Lance.

The film’s plot has heart. We aren’t seeing the cliché ‘road to redemption’ film that is often a hit or miss in today’s industry, but the trials and tribulations of becoming better and improving. The plot is driven by the stellar performances of the supporting cast, which includes Loretta Devine, Omari Hardwick and the up and coming Khadim Diop, all complementing the award winning Daniel Beaty. The film brings representation to a community and a people who aren’t often represented on the big screen. The reality of the film and its characters is the same every day reality that is often overlooked in Harlem.

Cinematically, you can’t complain from an image standpoint. The cinematography features a simple, but pleasant style, making sure not to take away from the film and contribute a unique sense of spectatorship that complements the themes of the movie. Those same themes are what make the film so important, sending hope to audience through the dialogue, making sure to conspicuously teach you valuable life lessons.

The best part of the film would be the connection the director shares with the film’s two most import characters Lance and Ty. The film embodies French New Wave in which the director injects himself personally into his work, life and ideology alike to convey story and message to the masses. With countless titles, acclaim and nothing left to prove Joseph has proven himself an auteur but more importantly found an efficient way to communicate his message to the people, and remind us how important our decisions are to the community and it’s future.

CHAPTER & VERSE opens in NY on February 3 and additional cities on February 10.

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