Visit, The

sleeping dog

Rated: R
Stars:  Hill Harper, Billy Dee Williams, Marla Gibbs

This well meaning attempt to depict the spiritual redemption of a wrongly imprisoned young man is horribly lost amid bad direction and poor screenwriting, all by the same person – Jordan Walker Pearlman

Hill Harper plays Alex Waters, a heroin/crack addict who is in the slammer for a rape that he says he didn’t commit. He is estranged from his middle class parents (Billy Dee Williams and Marla Gibbs) and upstanding big brother Tony (Obba Babatundé). Angry that his parents have never visited him during the five years he’s been in prison, Alex begs Tony to speak on his behalf and get them to come see him. The visit that ensues is one filled with anger and disappointment over a son who has failed them, and for the son, parents seemingly oblivious to his plight. Alex’ secret is that he has contracted AIDS and knows he is dying. Rae Dawn Chong shows up toward the end as a childhood friend, a former drug addict and the victim of fatherly molestation who has been saved by the church. She’s there to offer him some kind of solace.

The problem with the film is the overuse (from the first scene) of highly intrusive jazz and gospel music and fantasy sequences in place of present day story. Alex’ so-called redemption is never fully explored or actually depicted, but merely referred to by his brother using a few choice ‘flashbacks’ involving Alex and Chong’s Felicia McDonald character. It takes far too long to get the viewer involved to the point of caring about any of it. As for the performances, the actors are good. Too bad they had such meager pickings to play toward. Phylicia Rashad appears as Dr. Coles and Talia Shire plays a parole committee member.

Lotta says The Visit is not worth visiting.

Reviewed 3/4/01