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Malik (Omar Epps) is a young, black, incoming freshman track star. A little cocky–all right, more than a little.
Kristen (Kristy Swanson) is a white, naive freshman with no clue who she is or what she wants.
Remy (Michael Rappaport) is also white and a freshman but he’s odd. A loner. He can’t seem to fit in anywhere.
Out of their hometowns for the first time in their lives–and for some of them, having to deal with people who aren’t the same race, for the first time as well–they scramble to make sense of the new world they’re meant to fit in to.
Malik ends up with a group of guys led by Ice Cube (another guy in the group is Busta Rhymes). Some of their scenes are excellent examples of the way racism is alive and well (the film is twenty years old, but it remains accurate) on campuses. Malik also begins romancing Deja (Tyra Banks).
Kristen starts off hanging out with two friends from back home but after a traumatic experience she finds solace and solidarity with Taryn (Jennifer Connelly).
Then there’s Remy. Remy’s the sort of person the average human gets the urge to inch away from so of course the campus skinheads think he’s just swell and the feeling is mutual.
All of these characters; stories collide in one way or another and no one comes out untouched by the repercussions.
One of the professors is played by Laurence Fishburne and, in case I need to say it, he’s amazing.
John Singleton knows how to handle an ensemble cast and tell several stories at once whilst making a larger point.
I was reminded of this film after watching Dear White People last week. Mostly because the average film about American university life is about parties and hooking up and other things I could not care less about. Just in case you were wondering why this one seemed to be getting dragged out of the mothballs.
Do yourself a favour and watch this one. 5/5