***/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras A
starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Jay Hernandez
screenplay by David Loughery and Howard Korder
directed by Neil LaBute
by Walter Chaw It's wrong to say that Neil LaBute's Lakeview Terrace, despite its literal miscegenation subplot and the openness of its main character's intolerance, is about race and racism in a year that's already seen its fair share of the renewal of the race conversation in the United States, both in and out of the cineplex. Because it's a LaBute picture, closer to the truth that Lakeview Terrace is a film about misanthropy--that no matter the cloth, the uniform is the general shittiness with which we treat each other--and, more, how easily we shed the raiments of civilization when confronted with the brute, caveman essence of competing for sex. It's not as scabrous as LaBute's early work, but I wonder if that isn't a function in part of the spirit of a year that found miscegenation as a secondary conceit of the mainstream's Fourth of July tentpole flick, Hancock. The twist in Lakeview Terrace is that the bigot front and centre is a black man (named after Biblical Abel, no less) and that it's all been genre-mixed in the cop-gone-rogue, Internal Affairs/Unlawful Entry tradition, speaking ultimately to the distinct '70s feeling of paranoia towards authority that's resurfaced in films of the last eight Bush years while trying, with some success, to refocus racism into generalized rage, confusion, frustration, and intolerance. After seven years of examining the lines against which society coalesces when the world falls down, here's a film about the tenuous handshake that tenants of the new world order have with the re-gelling of society. In a lot of ways, Lakeview Terrace belongs in a conversation about the recent spate of flicks concerning war veterans returning from the front (like The Lucky Ones, or Home of the Brave (also starring Samuel L. Jackson)) of an unpopular war broken, angry, and unfit for the hypocrisy of peaceful coexistence.