The paper "Soul Food by George Tillman" is a great example of a movie review on visual arts and film studies. The film Soul Food, released on September 26, 1997, is written and directed by George Tillman and produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Tracy Edmonds and Robert Tertel. Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Michael Beach, Mekhi Phifer, Jeffrey D.Sams, Irma P. Hall, Gina Ravera and Brandon Hammond play the characters of the film. The story centers on how an Afro-American family faces a problem when the matriarch of the family, their mother, is dead.
The soul-food centers on the trials of an African-American family whose bondage begins to slip on the ground of certain problems faced at a particular stage of life. The narration is done by an 11-year old child Ahmad (Hammond), who is the referee of the Joseph family, a Chicago family that meets together and has dinner every Sunday with abundant ‘soul food’ for over 40 years. (Soul Food) Mother Joe (Hall) has three daughters, each of who has different success stories in their lives. The oldest daughter Teri (Williams) is a lawyer and financially she is stable but in her personal life, she is unhappy about her younger sister’s Maxine (Fox) getting married to her ex-boyfriend Kenny (Sams). Teri has been married to another guy, named, Miles (Beach) who desire to be an R&B singer. The youngest daughter Ryla (Nia Long)-nicknamed Bird is engaged with a person called Lem (Phifer), whom her mother dislikes because of being an ex-convict. (Soul Food) In spite of all the family turmoil, mother Joe has been successful enough to bind all of them together in the bondage of love and respect for each other. The situation completely changes when Mother Joe goes to coma due to a major heart attack. After this, no one in the family has felt the need for each other. Finally, Teri takes in-charge of her cousin Faith (Ravera) but finds her making out with her husband, Miles since both like music. On the other hand, it is not that easy for Lem to find a job, being convicted before. This forces Ryla to get into an unfair deal with her ex-boyfriend Simuel St. James (Mel Jackson) in order to make Lem a job. This worsens the situation more, as Lem gets imprisoned again for illegal work. In comparison to all of them, Kenny and Maxine (Soul Food) are financially in a good and a steady-state and she will be conceiving a third child. Ahmad (Hammond), their first child is indeed concerned about the wrecked situation in the family and he tries to plan so that all of them can be united together as Mother Joe wishes. After Mother Joe is hospitalized the family members have not met for the Sunday dinner to address issues regarding each other’s lives. So, the grandson makes it a point to bring all of them back at the table and relish a Sunday dinner.
The film is nice with a focus on the family issues of modern times. The greatness of the movie is not for the actor or the acting but the plot and the storyline. No one in the family hides their problem, no matter how big it might be. The disclosure of one’s personal or financial trauma is discussed at every Sunday dinner. The role played by Hall as the matriarch of her family is handled beautifully giving a fair justification to the character. It reminds the audience that how a family breaks apart after the matriarch of the family gets ill or is absent. It is a film that can be seen with elders and children. It is a song, which tells the tale of an Afro-American family (Soul Food) going through the hurdles of life. The depiction of each character has been like a fine sketch in a canvas, blended with colors of life. The storyline has been a touching one, and a personification of an individual’s life. The status of most middle-class families is the same as shown here, which the audience does not get to see often. Especially the character of the grandson Ahmad played by Hammond is the most striking feature of the movie.
Though the movie, do not stand valid for a coming future generation, the idea behind it is an inspiring one. In order to attract the urban audience, it should have edited some foul languages used especially by the lower-middle-class group. Apart from this, the cinematographer Paul Elliot (Soul Food) has magnificently snapped different locations of Chicago to relate the time and space of the film. Hall plays the mother bird in the nest protecting all her children under one canopy. Larry again loathes being helped by Maxine’s husband and but feel independent as she is capable to give her mother’s hospital bills. In the middle of the movie, Joe dies and then again ushers in a new set of drama.
The movie makes the audiences stay till the end to see how the family gets along in the voyage of life sailing together. On every Sunday dinner, the unbelievable and delicious food along with the family members is the attractive and soul of the story. The Soul food is also justified in its title as the luscious food served at every Sunday dinner by Big Mama becomes the purpose for the family to share their hard times with each and thrust open the inner pain of their souls. The food is the tool, which brings the family together and also makes us realize the importance of the mother figure in the family.