Crown Heights Screen 6 articles

Crown Heights

2017

Crown Heights Poster
  • Both of these actors [Stanfield and Asomugha] are forced to try to put across dimensional characterizations in quick bursts, however, and their honorable efforts aren't enough to fully bring to life characters that have been conceived as no more than wax statues: Colin a totem of unjust suffering, Carl an icon of selfless idealism and persistence. Crown Heights plays like a human-interest story in which all of the humanity has been gutted in favor of deadening narrative efficiency.

  • Scenes rich with potential minutiae, ones that beg to be settled into, hustle past with a mere glance. Warner’s transition, for instance, from a prisoner who expresses his rage physically... to one who finds his center in books and classrooms is presented strictly at the montage level. We never get insight into the texts Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) is reading, the words exchanged in those classrooms, or what plans he might have for putting his GED to use on the outside.

  • It has its rough spots: Ruskin has a lot of information to convey, and he often opts to do it with lots of fragments of scenes rather than a few select, dramatically fleshed-out ones. But the movie never loses its sense of outrage.

  • The visual storytelling never develops much personality, but the screenplay's decision to shift focus from Warner to his best friend Carl (former Oakland Raider Nnamdi Asomugha) energizes and focuses the story... Ruskin's commitment to giving both men's stories equal screen time is honorable, but it tends to staunch the momentum of a given storyline whenever it's threatening to build to a head. The film's climax is powerful nonetheless, and the performances carry the day.

  • ++

    Film Comment: Laura Kern
    March 03, 2017 | Sundance | March/April 2017 Issue (p. 65)

    The engrossing true story depicts life inside prison as well as on the outside as Colin's childhood friend (Nnamdi Asomugha) dedicates himself entirely to securing his freedom. Agaisnt a backdrop of great injustice, the film conveys the importance of fighting corruption, holding on to hope, and persevering—lessons we can all use right now.

  • Ruskin was too faithful to the original story, which was a smart analysis of the justice system. Something else happened to Warner in jail: the struggle of a soul, the discovery of spirituality. Something maybe less quantifiable, less useable to arouse skin-deep emotions and make a socio-political point. Something that would have truly turned Colin Warner into a three-dimensional character, instead of someone solely defined by what had happened to him.

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