She's Gotta Have It (1986)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Urban Comedy  |   Release Date - Aug 8, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Andrea LeVasseur

An excellent debut by any standard, Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It was part of the American independent film boom in the mid-'80s. Made on a low budget and premiered at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival,, the film is a freshly entertaining, witty romantic comedy set in a lived-in Brooklyn neighborhood featuring a cast of unknown, young black actors. Admittedly, though she has a striking physical presence, Tracy Camila Johns doesn't entirely convince as the sexually adventurous Nola Darling, and the supporting cast isn't that remarkable either. However, the diminutive Mars Blackmon (played by Lee) is a hilarious Woody Allen-style improbable boyfriend character that would live on, for better or worse, in a series of Nike commercials. Though the several attempts of film trickery don't always work its advantage, having the characters address the camera directly does make for authentically funny scenes, especially with all the one-liners from Nola's series of suitors. The jazz soundtrack by the director's father (Bill Lee) adds to the intimate yet lighthearted mood and sets the cool Brooklyn atmosphere. Despite its flaws, She's Gotta Have It is a sensitive, quirky comedy filled with personal touches that also introduced the talent of Spike Lee.