Wednesday, May 22, 2024

TV One’s ‘White Water’ Film Review

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It’s been said, one person can change the world.

In the TV-One film ‘White Water’ – premiered February 7 – the central character Michael (played by [twins] Amir and Amari O’Neil) changes his world in this civil rights era story that takes place in rural Alabama. It’s a novel idea bringing to focus again the absurdity of the ‘Whites Only, Colored Only’ water fountains reminiscent of Cicely Tyson’s triumph in the film ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’ some 40 years ago.

The tale is written in such a humorous fashion that one can easily forget – except for certain scenes – about what was really taking place during that time comparative to the acclaimed movie ‘Selma.’

For instance, after picking his own switch, the ‘switching station’ where Michael leaned over for his mother Annie (played by Sharon Leal) to mete out punishment has its own music theme, and Michael’s soliloquy as he faces a portrait of Jesus on the wall whose pose changes depending on the severity of his misdeeds. The expressions on Michael’s face are truly remarkable and believable – many scenes needed no dialogue to evoke laughter. When Annie learns he skipped school, the camera trails them in the distance as Annie says, ‘You must be out yo’ mind!’ Michael trailing behind her says, ‘If you say so.’ Hilarious!!

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The character of Michael’s cousin Red (Zhane Hall) is the kind of cousin who when Michael did something he wasn’t supposed to, Red would blackmail him. It seemed the more Red tried to convince Michael to forget about ‘white water,’ the more determined Michael became, and the more trouble he got into. He even dreams of ‘Whites Only’ ‘Colored’ fountains in the dry hot desert!

In another scene, Michael’s wayward father Terrance (Larenz Tate) gets in a fix when he tries to sell insurance to a woman who barters with a dress that got ‘caught on a fence.’ Hmmm!!

Reverend Stokes (Barry Shabaka Henley) is the thread of stability throughout the film. Michael’s friendship with Tommy (Brody Rose) becomes a key factor in the film’s pursuit towards unveiling brotherly love in Michael’s quest to drink some ‘white water.’ Great story; great film!

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