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Lakeview Terrace

What could be safer than living next to a cop? 

Year: 2008 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Neil LaBute 
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington  
An image from Lakeview Terrace

The topic of racism is a touchy one in any medium. Throw Sammy L. into the mix and things are bound to boil over.

Young married couple Chris (Wilson) and Lisa (Washington) are setting up in the LA hills hoping to live the American dream. What they didn’t count on is an overbearing next door neighbour, Abel (Jackson). A cop who takes his job home with him, Abel is trying his best to be a good father to his two kids since their mother’s death. But with the strictest of rules and home security measures that rival Alcatraz, he only ever ends up seeming the bad guy.

Colliding over blinding floodlights and snide remarks, Chris and Abel get off on the wrong foot, and it’s not long before Abel’s resentment of the idealistic interracial couple start to burn through. Set against the backdrop of raging California bushfires that crawl ever closer, tempers rise with the temperature building to a heated finale.

Much like American Beauty and Little Children, this tense suburban drama probes some thorny issues with great insight and intrigue. But unlike previous pieces on the issues of race such as Crash, here we are given the fresh twist of a black racist in the seat of power as an LAPD officer all too liberal with his authority.

Jackson is magnificent in the lead role, showcasing his masterly range from Fonzie-cool to scorching menace. Wilson and Washington have their moments too, but the film ultimately hangs on Jackson’s performance.

The movie does suffer a little in the opening act from some rather clunky conflicts that leave subtlety to be desired. But once it finds its feet, it hits the ground just right at every step to a perfectly simmering pace.

Owen Rye

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Summer Term (35mm)