In a time when race relations, the media, and the court of public opinion tend to permeate our society, it’s important to address such topics. Does Rhyan LaMarr’s Canal Street do that successfully? I’ll try to answer that in this review.
The story takes place in Chicago, where Jackie Styles (Mykelti Williamson) and his son Kholi (Bryshere Y. Gray) move from the south side to the suburbs. Kholi meets Brian Sudermill (Kevin Quinn) at a local rec center, who ends up being his classmate. Kholi is black and Brian is white. From the pair’s first encounter – an intense game of one-on-one – there is a sense that tensions between the two newly acquainted young men could be high.
Later in time, things seem to mellow out between the two. In fact, Kholi and his friends give an intoxicated Brian a lift home from a party they all attend. As Brian is dropped off, we hear a gun shot and find his lifeless body lying on the ground, with Kholi by his side. Kholi immediately becomes the prime suspect and is arrested for his murder, with little investigation by local authorities. But did he do it? Do we have all of the facts? Kholi’s father tirelessly fights in court to prove that his son’s case is not cut and dried.
Canal Street offers much needed commentary on these issues that we deal with in our society on a daily basis. Acting performances are headlined by Williamson, Gray, and Quinn who provide life to their respective characters and make them believable. It was also nice to see North Carolina’s own, Reed Shannon, play a role in the film.
On the technical side of things, I found it interesting how LaMarr frequently incorporated debates by members of the media and celebrities on Kholi’s case, as well as the issues mentioned previously. Almost a bit too much in fact which made the film choppy at times. Also, I don’t know if this was an issue with the theater I chose or not, but the sound quality was not the best. The only way I can describe it is muffled, almost like someone had a piece of paper over the sound equipment. It didn’t take away much from the film but it is worth noting, nonetheless.
Canal Street is impressive overall. It may not be receiving as much attention as it is in a fairly limited theatrical release, but it should be. Despite being a work of fiction, LaMarr’s film is pertinent to our society’s current state of affairs and is most definitely worth viewing.
I Give It An: A-