About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Home
February 2005

The Tenants

by Kam Williams

The Tenants


Director: Danny Green
Producer: Randall Emmett, Lati Grobman, Avi Lerner, Heidi Jo Markel, & Holly Wiersma
Screenwriters: David Diamond, and Danny Green, based on the novel by Bernard Malamud
Cinematographer: David Dubois
Cast: Dylan McDermott, Snoop Dogg, Rose Byrne, Niki J. Crawford, Aldis Hodge, Laz Alonso, Stephen Jared
Rated R for violence, nudity, sexuality, drug use, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity.
Running time: 97 minutesSnoop Dogg and Dylan McDermott Square-Off in Seventies Melodrama





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 ìKill Whitey.î

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 black woman.

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.