Pretty cool, this Love Jones. Touting itself about as a stereotype-free black love movie, where ""there is not one lethal weapon, and the only wound is a broken heart"", Theodore Witcher's debut mixes the sharp comedy of TV stuff like Friends with a trendy, jazzy attitude and a character-led story. Erotic and moody, it shows life in a middle-class black bohemia rarely seen on film - these people are professionals and artists, not drug addicts or gangstas.
From the off, you know cocky young stud Darius is going to get gorgeous Nina into bed. Taking to the stage at a poetry club, he hornily lubricates her loins with lines like, ""I've got to admit, girl, you're the shit, girl"", and candid references to ""jism"." She plays hard to get at first, but once an ""injection of sublime erections"", (as he so delicately puts it) is on the cards, Darius' troubles begin. The chemistry between Tate and Long is such that, when fickle Fate intervenes (she heads for New York to see an ex-fiancé, Darius dates another girl), you almost lose interest: it's painfully likely that they'll get together, and that all this larking about is only there to spin the film out for another hour.
The belief that once two people start dating they'll start shagging pulls Love Jones out of TV sitcom land and into the realm of steamy, adult entertainment. Witcher's knowing writing doesn't delve, Lee-like, into racial rancour; instead it's a shameless eulogy of the ""Love Jones"" (or love bug) that strikes when two people lose their hearts. And he's lucky with the cast. Both leads previously appeared in much grittier portraits of black living - - Tate in Menace II Society and Long in Boyz N The Hood - - and enjoy being given hip dialogue on fidelity, romance and why God must be a woman.
Black or white, we've seen this story many times. What we haven't watched enough of, however, are well-formed African-American characters sharing the complete range of human emotions and not being marginalised by either violence or poverty. For that reason, Love Jones is a picture that deserves to be saluted.
As slick as its clichéd rainstorm, and as laid back as its R&B soundtrack, this love story among well-off black twentysomethings outstays its welcome, but remains a piece of fun and sexy entertainment. An assured directorial debut.