Boyz n the Hood ★★★★½

At 23, John Singleton has crafted an audacious, colossal coming-of-age film that is both specific and universal in its exploration of Black masculinity and the crises faced by its larger community. Released in 1991, Boyz n the Hood exposes a sad, and cruel social study on Black masculinity and how they’ve became victims of a wretched institution that facilitates an endless, ongoing cycle of violence, abuse and racial prejudice. Singleton proves that his age is not a hurdle in rendering a mature undertaking of such sensitive, controversial issue. It’s a film that is altogether probing, urgent, and completely fresh and modern even on a 21st century perspective. Also, there’s an unquestionable force behind every line delivery and movement that I love, that even when the narrative succumbs to melodrama, it never loses focus or an ounce of emotional clarity.

The sincerity of the film is bolstered by the film’s overwhelming acting talent. From Angela Bassett to Nia Long and a baby Regina King—each actor gives a resonating presence even in small parts. Laurence Fishburne is particularly good as a strong-headed father who wants all the best for his son. Cuba Gooding Jr. is fine all throughout, but Ice Cube surprises more with a naturalistic, empathetic presence. Overall, Boyz n the Hood might not be the prettiest or the most stylistic of all films, but its raw, soulful eloquence in proving its point is what matters.

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