Rosewood Burns Brightly

John Singleton outdoes himself with the true story of a pogrom against a black village

If the Rosewood story is like a miniature version of what happened to the Jews in Europe, then Voight is a puny version of their Oskar Schindler. The merchant-class whites--Wright and a couple of railroad men--are shown to have had enough economic dealings with the blacks to have developed sympathy for them, while the dirt-poor rednecks see the blacks as rivals.

Despite the heroism of Sylvester and Mann, Singleton and Poirier recognize the conflicted Mr. Wright as the most interesting character, and by the end, Voight's role has basically become the lead. It's the best movie part he's had in years. Wright isn't a violent man and he isn't a simpleton, but he is, in a mild, ingrained way, a racist. So it's deeply touching when he's faced with the choice of whether to help the blacks--you feel your own soul in the balance.

Directed by John Singleton; with Jon Voight and Ving Rhames.

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