What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although LL Cool J has a small part in this movie, it's not targeted at fans of his children's books or romantic comedies. Slow moving and visually stylized, the film features frequent blood and violence (mostly with guns, plus a couple of explosions), as well as frank discussions of sex (several scenes show nude body parts). The movie's weighty, complex theme of racial "passing" connects to other forms of double crossing and corruption. Discussion of drugs in relation to investigations; profanity includes multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "ass," and more.
What's the story?
When Nora (Jolene Blalock) is arrested for murder, her boss, District Attorney Ford Cole (Ray Liotta), tries to prove her innocence. Nora says the victim, Isaac (Mekhi Phifer), stalked and raped her, so she acted in self-defense. But her version of events is contradicted by Isaac's co-worker Luther (LL Cool J), who says Isaac and Nora were lovers and that she killed him to cover up her many secrets -- including that she's a white woman "passing" for black. While Ford runs around looking for clues, he discovers that Nora's been lying to him for months, both about her work as an award-winning gang prosecutor and her own gang affiliations.
Is it any good?
The key word in this movie's title is "slow." Cole spends the entirety of SLOW BURN coming to see that his star assistant, Nora, isn't what she seems. The seeming racial subplot underlines the movie's thematic focus on the lies told by all of the characters -- both lawyers and criminals -- as they try to outsmart one another and get ahead. Unfortunately, this focus is lost amid dull expository scenes. Most frustratingly, even though Nora is the center of all the men's stories, she remains a cipher, without a life of her own. Luther calls her "a trick of light" (a notion illustrated with a heavy cinematic hand, as she passes through various colored filters), but really, she's just air.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the idea of racial "passing." What perspective does this movie take on the topic? How does it tie in with the movie's general theme of deception? How do multiple versions of events, remembered differently by different characters, elaborate on the subject of race identity? How have previous movies and TV shows dealt with the issue of "passing"?