Down In The Delta

Down In The Delta

4.0 3
Director: Maya Angelou

Cast: Alfre Woodard, Al Freeman Jr., Mary Alice

     
 

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Poet Maya Angelou made her feature directorial debut with this African-American family drama, shown theatrically but originally produced for the Showtime cable network. Unemployed single mother Loretta (Alfre Woodward) lives with her mother, Rosa Lynn (Mary Alice), in a Chicago apartment. Drugs and alcohol lead Loretta to neglect her autistic daughter, Tracy (Kulani… See more details below

Overview

Poet Maya Angelou made her feature directorial debut with this African-American family drama, shown theatrically but originally produced for the Showtime cable network. Unemployed single mother Loretta (Alfre Woodward) lives with her mother, Rosa Lynn (Mary Alice), in a Chicago apartment. Drugs and alcohol lead Loretta to neglect her autistic daughter, Tracy (Kulani Hassen). Her teen son Thomas (Mpho Koaho) brings in money by photographing tourists. Rosa Lynn pawns a family heirloom in order to send Loretta and the kids off to their Mississippi Delta hometown where Loretta's Uncle Earl (Al Freeman Jr.) runs his diner. Earl lives in a dry county, so Loretta is reluctant. However, she has no choice after Rosa Lynn threatens to contact child-welfare authorities if she doesn't go. Earl takes in the trio even though he already has enough problems with Annie (Esther Rolle), an Alzheimer's victim under the supervision of caregiver Zenia (Loretta Devine). Toronto locations substitute for Mississippi. Shown at the 1998 Toronto Film Festival.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The directorial debut of poet Maya Angelou was generally dismissed as a Hallmark card on celluloid, a bland family drama that provided easy answers to tough questions. But Down in the Delta is a more likeable film than that, even if its greatest appeal may lie with sentimental folks who prefer upbeat endings. It should definitely interest African-Americans who cherish even simplistic renderings of their heritage. Down in the Delta rises slightly above that level in choosing a candelabra called "Nathan" as the unusual repository for the history of this family, from the abolition of slavery to modern-day Chicago. That the symbol of this proud lineage would end up in the hands of a drug addict, and then those of the pawnshop owner to whom she trades it, makes an earnest, if heavy-handed, statement about the dissolution of the values that held this clan together. The redemption of Alfre Woodard's shiftless heir is too tidy to sit comfortably, but it does have its share of life-affirming moments for those in the mood for such optimism. In addition to the always-superlative Woodard, Al Freeman Jr. turns in heartfelt work as the stubborn uncle whose tenderness toward his demented wife (Esther Rolle, also good) offsets the gruff wariness with which he initially greets Woodard's family. Down in the Delta contains nothing new; the healing powers of family and small-town life are well-worn cinematic territory. But Angelou's film has the spirit and the sincerity to neutralize some of its sappier cliches.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/05/2002
UPC:
0786936169614
Original Release:
1998
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Walt Disney Video

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alfre Woodard Loretta
Al Freeman Earl
Mary Alice Rosa Lynn
Esther Rolle Annie
Loretta Devine Zenia
Wesley Snipes Will
Mpho Koaho Thomas
Kulani Hassen Tracy
Anne-Marie Johnson Monica
Justin Lord Dr. Rainey

Technical Credits
Maya Angelou Director
Alfre Woodard Co-producer
Maxyne Baker Costumes/Costume Designer
Reuben Cannon Producer
Bob Christiansen Producer
Stanley Clarke Score Composer
Terri Farnsworth Co-producer
Myron Goble Co-producer,Screenwriter
Lindsey Hermer-Bell Production Designer
Tom Hidderley Sound/Sound Designer
Victor McGauley Producer
Reuben Cannon & Associates Casting
Nancy Richardson Editor
Rick Rosenberg Producer
Wesley Snipes Producer
William Wages Cinematographer
Michael Zenon Asst. Director

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