Soul Food is good wholesome tucker, especially if it's
served up every Sunday; a lavish meal and tradition that
works wonders bringing an extended family together.
Soul Food is a skilfully concocted piece of melodrama
and a welcome serving of wholesome, positively structured
This family has been moulded, controlled and fattened
by Big Mama, played touchingly and with great humour by
Irma P. Hall. Her four daughters Teri (Vanessa L. Williams),
Maxine (Vivica A. Fox), Faith (Gina Ravera) and Bird played
by Nia Long have some juicy skeletons in the closet, and
their men as you can imagine have plenty to contend with
dealing with the pressures of work and with their
relationships within such a large family.
One of the men is torn between the legal profession
and being a musician, another is doing his best to stay
out of jail and get a job, and another of the men in years
gone by was the object of desire for two of the sisters.
Soul Food is related to a large extent by Ahmed, the
young son of one of the sisters.
Using a child to tell these sorts of stories is a
common and usually effective ploy in melodramas like Soul
Food. The innocence and truthfulness of children is a
wonderfully adept carving knife for slicing through the
rubbish we adults present to ourselves as unsolvable
Soul Food has a complicated set of relationships to
deal with, a mix that would become at best confusing if
handled clumsily, but writer and director George Tillman
Jr. has arranged this menu with great flare.
Soul Food lifts itself above the ranks of less
entertaining movies in its last reel which, in spite of a
slightly implausible ending, is involving and satisfying.
There's a fairly racy scene involving the sexual act
which has unfortunately given Soul Food an R rating (if
they had just bloodily beheaded one another the rating
would have been M 15+, ratings are stupid aren't they!).
Some of the dialogue is hard for this honky to hear or
understand but there's also a dance scene in Soul Food for
which Breakdance would have broken a leg. There's also
some pretty cool soul music.
4 Big Mama Flys.