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Brown Sugar - Preview, US reaction and competition

Preview by: Jack Foley

DRE (Taye Diggs) and Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) can attribute their friendship and the launch of their careers to a single childhood moment - the day they discovered hip-hop on a New York street corner.

Now some 15 years later, she is a revered music critic and he is a successful, though unfulfilled music executive.

As they lay down the tracks toward their futures, hip-hop isn't the only thing that keeps them coming back to that moment on the corner...

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood), Brown Sugar stars Taye Diggs (How Stella Got Her Groove Back), Sanaa Lathan (Love & Basketball), Mos Def (Monster's Ball), Nicole Ari Parker (Remember The Titans), Boris Kodjoe (Love & Basketball) and Queen Latifah (Chicago).

The screenplay is written by Michael Elliot (Like Mike) and Rick Famuyiwa based on a story by Elliot.

According to screenwriter, Mike Elliot, the story was designed to fill a void in a particular movie genre.

"I always felt like all the great love stories weren't ones that had black people in them," he explains.

"I just wanted to create something really romantic that by the end of the movie, touched you."

Elliot decided to base the story on lifelong friends who, as adults, come to the realization that they are also in love with each other.

Once he had worked with the basic concepts of the love story, Elliot placed Sidney and Dre against a background he was intimately familiar with, the world of hip-hop music.

"I had the desire to create a love story inside a world that I loved. It just made sense," he concludes.

US reaction

The ensuing romance was generally greeted by favourable reviews in the US.

Leading the way is the Chicago Sun-Times, which awarded it three out of four, and wrote that the film is 'observant about its people'.

The New York Times referred to it as 'an amiable uptown remake of My Best Friend's Wedding', while felt that it is 'inoffensive, even charming at times, but there is never any doubt as to how the story will end'.

Salon wrote that 'Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs shine', while the Hollywood Reporter felt that Brown Sugar is 'an agreeably charming, brightly performed romantic comedy,.

Less impressed, though still favourable, were the likes of Entertainment Weekly, which awarded it only a C+, but wrote that it is 'so earnest in its yearning for the days before rap went nihilistic that it summons more spirit and bite than your average formulaic romantic quadrangle'.

And E! Online awarded it B+ and wrote that it is 'worth a date'.


Being a film about hip-hop it is little wonder to find some great names on the soundtrack.

Names such as, Mos Def, Eric B and Rakim (Paid in Full), Cassandra Wilson (covering Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time), Mary J Blige (Never Been), and the Roots (Act Too (Love of My Life)) - to name but a few

To celebrate the release of Brown Sugar on July 18, IndieLondon is offering its readers the chance to win Brown Sugar T-shirts, record bags and soundtracks.

All you have to do is click on the competition link to the right hand-side of this page.

Needless to say, a full review of the film will appear on these pages in due course.

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