AMERICAN VIOLET delivers a star-making feature film introduction and stunning performance from 22-year-old Nicole Beharie, and it’s one heck of a true story besides. The striking, meltingly sexy and smart actress plays a character based on Regina Kelly, an African-American woman from the small town of Hearne, Texas who was innocently caught up in a bogus drug dragnet, racially motivated, that resulted in a civil suit from the ACLU against the regional D.A. and drug task force.
In outline conventional, hitting like a hammer, the story is compelling enough on its own, even as it’s hard to take your eyes and attention off Miss Beharie. She’s further blessed by strong supporting work from Tim Blake Nelson, Will Patton, Michael O’Keefe, Alfre Woodward, Xzibit, Charles S. Dutton and Paul Guilfoyle. 103 unnerving minutes of ‘Wake Up & Smell the Truth’ that should have been widely shown. Instead, it passed like a leaf, making but a sad $553,000, 232nd place for the year.
Yet another nail in the confidence coffin that holds our rotting justice system, the enraging 2008 drama was directed by Tim Disney. The story took place eight years earlier. Things have only gotten worse.