First we had In the mix, a movie about a black guy dating a white girl.
More recently, we had The Tenants, where the script was flipped to have
a white guy going after a black girl. Now, The Tenants does both of those
pictures one better by featuring both a black male-white female and a
white male-black female relationship.
The film is based on the best seller by Bernard Malamud, the Pulitzer
Prize-Winning author of The Natural. Set in 1972, it stars Snoop Dogg
and Dylan McDermott as writers both of whom happen to be squatting in
an otherwise empty Brooklyn tenement.
As the movie opens, we find reclusive Harry Lesser (McDermott) working
on his third novel, but alone, because he doesnít have much in the way
of social skills. Worldly Willie Spearmint (Dogg), on the other hand,
has a white girlfriend, Irene (Rose Byrne), but hasnít yet landed a contract
with a publisher.
The two tend to keep their distance, except for when Willie wants help
polishing his writing, or when Harry wants a lesson on how to loosen up
around the ladies. The plot thickens when Harry makes a move on Irene,
after criticizing the latest draft of Willieís book, which is entitled
Overhearing Willie tell his ìb-wordî to go mate with herself, Harry figures
that the girl might be ripe for a more appreciative mate. Irene declines,
however, explaining that in, ìloving a black man, sometimes you feel black
yourself.î She informs Willie of the overture, and the ensuing tension
simmers till Willie introduces his neighbor to Mary (Niki Crawford), a
sister who seduces the nerdy Jew when he admits heís never been with a
The stripped-down production looks more like a play than a movie, but
all the actors do a decent job with a script which turns increasingly
preposterous at every turn. Yet, because it held my interest from start
to finish, this latest variation on the black-white romance theme earns
this criticís recommendation.
Very Good (3 stars)
Studio: The Tenants, Inc.