A title in which nobody in the film does.
On a sweltering hot day in a Brooklyn neighborhood, everyone has their own issues to deal with and tensions between Blacks and Italians rise. Issues of pride and prejudice, justice and inequity come to the surface as hate and bigotry smoulder–finally building into a crescendo as it explodes into violence
Spike Lee’s films are ones that I thoroughly enjoy, as hard as they are to get through, their enjoyable. This is probably one of his most challenging ever, but also his best.
Lee’s screenplay is what really makes this film click, mostly cause it’s all so real. You have comedy, drama, racism, tension, political justices, all of these things are talked about or happen in one day, and it all seems too real. I mostly like how Lee controls the camera to keep up with all the stories in one day. You see all these people in one close-knit community, how they react with each other, and what their differences are as people. Everybody has something to say, and I enjoyed hearing almost every word of it, because this is how real people actually speak, especially when it comes to the subject of racism.
The main reason why Do the Right Thing is so memorable, is because of its final 30 minutes, and main message at hand. The huge ass riot at the end, is filmed so well, you can just feel the intensity coming off the screen, and you feel like this is how a real riot would ensue and end. Also, Lee ponders the question that hits us many times throughout this movie: “who does the right thing?”. To be brutally honest, it may seem like an easy answer, but after watching this film, you can’t really tell who does, or who should have, everything is just based on first instinct. Lee also does something that almost never happens in race films such like this, he shows us both sides of the story. Lee doesn’t always back up black people, and with this you can see that he shows the white people, as good people too. Lee raises us with a lot of questions, and instead of just having us answer them right away by what he shows us on film, he makes us keep pondering the questions to ourselves, even after the film is over.
Spike Lee as Mookie, is good, because the guy is so laid back, so chill, and so cool, that he really is a great character to watch, as he basically walks through the streets of Brooklyn, delivering pizzas for about 2 hours each. Danny Aiello as Sal, is also very powerful here, playing a guy that seems so tough with his work, but then you see the people that come into his place, and you can understand why he is, like he is. There are just so many more memorable characters in this film, like Ossie Davis, playing the neighborhood drunk, or John Turturro, playing the son of Sal, who is just a total d-bag. So many more characters but I would be taking forever if I had to explain every single dynamic one.
Everything about this film will just make you understand racism a whole lot more. Even though it is about 20 years old, it still holds up today showing us a look at just a small little neighborhood, that can still have racial tensions, as much as any other place. Just remember to be ready for a second viewing, and always raise the question: “who does the right thing?”.
Consensus: Lee’s masterpiece, although about 20 years old, is just as powerful as it was then, with it’s powerful performances from memorable characters, and a direction and script from Lee that shows the many people that live in the world, who deal with racial tensions, just almost every day.
I am glad you brought up the question you did in the middle of your review, “who does the right thing?” Lee, even with his great insight and strong opinions, never preaches in the film or makes his character have the ‘right’ philosophy.
You are right about it being a masterpiece. This is one of the greatest displays of cinematography in American cinema. He is always using different techniques, focuses, tricks and angles to toy with mood, space and character. I love just watching it for that alone.
It is great a piece of work, and Lee uses all his tricks from his hat, to make his films unusual, but also very original, and entertaining to watch.
I do love the way the street (the bricks and the mortar and the tarmac) comes alive in this movie which is certainly down to Lee’s skill as a visual storyteller. That’s in addition to the great way he handles an ensemble set of characters and a multi-layered story. Great review Dan.
This neighborhood does come alive thanks to Lee, and he handles all of this very well. Thanks Dan!
I might have to give this one a revisit, but it never gripped me. I could never connect with the characters or enjoy the overall vibe. Maybe upon a second viewing I’ll think differently but for now I just see it as an okay film.
This review is based off my 3rd viewing, cause the first 2 I didn’t feel any connection. But I would say a another viewing would be a great idea.
Even just watching the film I feel like guessing a glass of water. Such a brilliantly thought-provoking film.