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Honeydripper (DVD Review)

25 May, 2008 By: Dan Bennett


Prebook 5/27/08; Street 6/24/08
Universal/Screen Media
Box Office $0.3 million
$27.98 DVD
Rated ‘PG-13' for brief violence and some suggestive material.
Stars Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Sean Patrick Thomas, Stacy Keach, Mary Steenburgen, Yaya DaCosta.

John Sayles has certainly captured the American South with intelligence and dramatic flair in the past. Matewan and Passion Fish are little-known mini-masterpieces from the prolific writer-director, while Lone Star may be one of the best American films of the past 25 years.

Honeydripper continues the run. Sayles is a gifted storyteller, and Honeydripper again shows that talent. Glover stars as the owner of a backwoods Alabama bar in 1950, a place where sweet music entertains the poor locals. It's also a time when Jim Crowe laws hampered the efforts of a black man to keep a business going strong, and the proprietor is desperate for an idea to keep his place up and running.

Bringing in fresh musical talent conjures only minimal success, before the character gives a shot to a mysterious newcomer — a drifting, backwoods guitar maestro who changes the lives of the bar's frequent inhabitants forever.

Rich in great blues music, and alive with the detailed, character-driven storytelling and dialogue Sayles employs, Honeydripper also shows off the creative use of camera Sayles is known for, particularly his ability to make a slow pan across a scene ooze with impact and emotion, yet never seem showy.

For Sayles fans, who have watched for almost three decades as the writer-director has nibbled on the outside edges of larger appreciation, this is another welcome entry to the canon.

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