Ving Rhames, Jon Voigt, Don Cheadle, Ester Rolle, Michael Rooker

Directed by John Singleton
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
April 11, 2001

Jon Voight and Ving Rhames give strong performances in this uneven but unmistakably earnest film set in Florida, in 1923. Voight plays John Wright, a white shopkeeper in the predominantly black town of Rosewood. Rhames takes the role of Mann, a World War I veteran who wants to settle in a town where blacks are prospering.

Trouble starts when Fannie Taylor (Catherine Kellner), a housewife in the neighboring white town of Sumner, claims that she was beaten and raped by a black stranger. Fannie's lie becomes an excuse for Sumner's residents to lynch blacks and burn Rosewood to the ground. It is John who helps Mann get a few black women and children to safety.

Amazingly, the story is based on fact. The tragedy of Rosewood was kept secret until the 1980s. TV's 60 Minutes helped to expose the truth and to pass a 1994 Florida bill giving reparations to the families of Rosewood survivors. Though Hollywood hyperbolizes the Gregory Poirier script — Mann is a fictional character — John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood) directs the film with riveting urgency. Split reaction to the O.J. Simpson verdicts is just one symptom of America's continuing racial divide. At its best, Rosewood touches a still-raw nerve.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    The Commodores | 1984

    The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

    More Song Stories entries »