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American Violet



During the 2000 election, Dee Roberts, a 24-year-old African-American mother of four working as a waitress in a small Texas town, is wrongly accused of being a drug dealer and dragged off to jail even though there is no evidence. The D.A. tries to force a guilty plea in return for release as a convicted felon, but she refuses and with the help of the ACLU and a former narcotics officer, she risks everything including custody of her kids to fight the Texas justice system.


Newcomer Nicole Beharie is given the daunting job of portraying the real-life Dee Roberts and does a nice job showing the determination of a woman struggling against racial bias in an attempt to clear her name. The always reliable Alfre Woodard is cast as her cautious mother but has relatively limited screen time. Michael O'Keefe comes off as a Southern stereotype, playing the powerful local D.A., as does Will Patton in the more sympathetic role of a former narcotics officer involved in Dee's defense. There are some nice brief moments from Charles S. Dutton, as a Reverend, and rapper Xzibit, but the supporting standout is Tim Blake Nelson as the determined ACLU lawyer trying to win justice against long odds.


American Violet should be applauded for bringing an appalling miscarriage of justice to light, detailing that racial bigotry and injustice are still prevalent even at the dawn of a new millennium.


The story is presented so flatly by director Tim Disney and writer/producer Bill Haney that Dee's remarkable journey comes across as a yawner instead of the inspirational tale it wants to be. This version is more like a routine Lifetime TV movie than a feature film and unfortunately has been populated mostly with characters who may be based on fact but come off as hopelessly stereotyped.


Skip 'em both, and wait for the basic cable run. It's free.



Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.