Lakeview Terrace

The only serious problem with LakeviewMV5BMTI0MzI0NDI4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTk4ODk3MQ@@._V1__SX1859_SY847_ Terrace was the advertising campaign. It went from Hey, cool preview! to Why didn’t that movie ever come out? to I am so tired of these previews, hooray that the movie finally being out means I’ll never have to see them again! Maybe there was a delay in the release? Dunno. Anyhow, I’d pretty much written it off, but last Wednesday I found myself with some time to kill, and it was the best fit for my schedule and interest level. Which is good; I would have needed closure.

Surprisingly, and to the film’s benefit, it’s not really the boilerplate thriller it appeared to be. Sure, all that ratchety tension stuff is in there, and played quite well on all sides. But mostly, it’s a character study about two people who simply don’t like each other. There are all kinds of proximate causes: racism features heavily, but jealousy, loneliness, power imbalances, and family values differences all play their roles. But I really think the underlying issue is that some people just can’t stand each other, and these two had the misfortune of living next to each other. (Well, and the misfortune of Samuel L. Jackson being just enough off-kilter to turn it from the typical coldly polite avoidance into a constantly escalating conflict. But make no mistake, the other guy[1] was carrying around plenty of his own contributory macho bullshit.)

I think what really impressed me, though, was that despite all of that, SLJ was frequently sympathetic. Not, y’know, a lot, but more than enough to take him out of the caricature territory one expects from his boilerplate thriller character type. To balance that, the travails of Not SLJ and his wife were mostly disinteresting; real and depth-creating, just like SLJ’s sympathetitude, but it just never fit the tone of everything else that was going on, at least to me. Still, minor quibble in an otherwise above-average experience.

[1] Not Samuel L. Jackson, I think, is what his name is?