Black Nativity: A Christmas Musical

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Our family enjoys musicals, and to get in the Christmas spirit, we went to the movies!  Black Nativity (2013 PG) is a well made, well acted Christmas movie with an artistic twist.   But this musical has too much singing!

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A young single mother (Jennifer Hudson) sends her teenaged son Langston (Jacob Latimore) away at Christmastime because they are being evicted.  Naima had lost a good job, and with working two jobs she still fell behind in her rent, and she wants to shield her son from these troubles.  She sends him to stay with her parents (Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker), whom she has not spoken to since running away when she was teenaged and pregnant.

A musical happens when songs are woven into the film.  Jennifer Hudson has an amazing voice, and uses it to express her love and concern and worry and stress.  Jacob Latimore sings and raps his worry and longings.  But in this case, the songs are too repetitive, conveying the same emotion over too long of a period of time.

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Upon arrival to Times Square in New York, Langston misses seeing his grandparents and through a misunderstanding ends up in jail.  His grandfather, Reverend Cornell Cobbs, is disappointed and concerned that the first interaction he has with his grandson is to pick him up from the police station.  The dialogue is very well written, and Forest Whitaker portrays his internal conflict perfectly.  Jacob Latimore plays his character polite and reserved but also with a simmering sense of betrayal.

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Langston’s grandmother Aretha is so happy to finally have the chance to get to know her grandson, but she is on edge and nervous that her husband or her will say the wrong thing and cause this sad and confused boy to run away.  I felt the most compassion for Aretha, so incredibly well portrayed  by Angela Bassett.

Sing with the street musicians to reveal character.  Sing at the piano to convey emotion.  This works in this movie.  But the other singing did not add to the story.

All conflict comes together at the Black Nativity Christmas Eve church service, and all conflict comes to a satisfying conclusion.  Have tissues handy!  And now, at church, let the singing happen!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Black Nativity: A Christmas Musical

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