|LOSING GROUND (director/writer: Kathleen Collins; cinematographer: Ronald K. Gray; editors: Ronald K. Gray/Kathleen Collins; music: Michael Minard; cast: Seret Scott (Sara Rogers), Maritza Rivera (Celia), Bill Gunn (Victor), Duane Jones (Duke), Billie Allen (Secret's mom), Gary Bolling (George), Norberto Kerner (Carlos), Michelle Mais (Nelly Bly), Clarence Branch Jr. (Man on Radio); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Kathleen Collins/Ronald K. Gray; Milestone/Oscilloscope; 1982)|
|"The ambitious avant-garde
psychological drama covers a lot of territory."
by Dennis Schwartz
dashing menage a trois drama/comedy,
that's superbly directed and written by playwright,
professor and indie filmmaker, the African-American
Kathleen Collins. One of the first black woman
filmmakers, died of cancer at age 46, in 1988, after
her debut feature and regrettably never made another
film. The ambitious avant-garde psychological drama
covers a lot of territory, from philosophy to
Bergman-like psychology over marriage. It zooms in on
the summer vacation experience, in an unnamed
small-town in upstate NY, with a Puerto Rican section,
of a serious-minded but passionless NYC black
philosophy teacher Sara (Secret Scott) and her
arrogant free-spirited middle-aged abstract artist
turned portrait painter husband Victor (Bill Gunn).
is doing an intellectual research paper on "ecstasy"
as a religious experience, while portrait painter
Victor is looking for ecstasy in more earthly ways.
When Victor uses an attractive local Puerto Rican,
Celia (Maritza Rivera ), as his
model, the jealous Sara returns to the city and gets
involved in a passionate dance movie put on by her
college's drama teacher (Gary Bolling).
The unemployed actor Duke (Duane Jones),
the director's nephew, is her courtly dance partner
and love interest.
this experience Sara re-evaluates her life and begins
to see that she takes herself too seriously. Finally
going through an emotional breakdown, she understands
that her marriage and life have deep cracks in it and
things were not as serene as she pretended.
performances by Seret Scott, Bill Gunn and Duane Jones
are all excellent. Too bad the film was never
theatrically released. Now released by Milestone as a
DVD and for theaters, after they remastered the found
negative, we see what we were missing.
REVIEWED ON 3/31/2016 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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