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Mainstream - Gospel Hill

Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Julia Stiles, Danny Glover, Tom Bower, Giancarlo Esposito, Taylor Kitsch
Directed by: Giancarlo Esposito
Deco Entertainment
Fox Home Entertainmelt 2009

Have you ever spent an hour and a half watching grass grow? Watching paint dry? If you couldn’t bring yourself to try and accomplish these feats then Deco Entertainment has the perfect alternative if you want to give it a go in the form of the DVD release of Gospel Hill. Taking as a starting point the upcoming festivities in memoriam for assassinated civil rights activist Paul Malcolm (played by Samuel L. Jackson) a story unfolds about the town of Julia.

This is a set piece movie with all the expected characters a racist retired sheriff (character actor Tom Bower), a wide eyed white school teacher (Julia Stiles), a disappointed son of the slain civil rights leader (Danny Glover), a firebrand community organizer (Angela Bassett), an upwardly mobile black doctor (Giancarlo Esposito) and a development project that will put an historic part of Julia under the wrecking ball to make way for a golf course. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this movie but that is also the movie’s weakness. First time director Giancarlo Esposito does a decent job directing this movie the failure is with the weak script that tries to imitate multithreaded stories like Crash and Short Cuts but just doesn’t have the compelling material or storyline to go with the intent.

When all is said and done there is nothing much of any suspense in Gospel Hill. Every effort to create something approaching interest is lost by a stilted and predictable script and so, so performances. The best performances are delivered by Danny Glover and Tom Bower but those are in spite of the script. Glover is his usual steadfast self playing John Malcolm who still hasn’t come to terms with his father’s death. Bower is superb as the racist former sheriff who is uncomfortable with some of what he hears himself saying and the way he thinks. 

The thin script could have benefitted greatly if it had just concentrated on the story of these two men and left the rest of it out of the movie. Gospel Hill is not a bad movie it is just predictable and falls flat and really isn’t worth your time.

Denis Bernicky

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