Gospel Hill
by Phil Boatwright

Not rated, this new to DVD drama from 20th Century Fox features Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Julia Stiles, Adam Baldwin and Taylor Kitsch. Written by Terrell Tannen, Giancarlo Esposito, Jeff Stacy. Directed by Giancarlo Esposito.

A former sheriff and a former civil-rights activist revisit the 30-year-old death of another rights worker. The community is about to salute a murdered 1960s activist. As the ceremony approaches, we discover that there is still resentment and frustration between the races. To add fuel to the fire, big time developers are buying up much of the area to turn into a golf course. Though they are promising much, a few residents fear many will be displaced and cheated.

Somewhat heavy-handed dealing with the sensitive subject matter of racial relations, rich vs. poor and capitalism vs. an idealistic hope that all may find financial equality, the film is no less engrossing. A reminder that bigotry still rears its ugly head and that old wounds heal slowly, the filmmakers do their best to remind younger viewers of the tensions between whites and blacks during the 1960s and that the answer to the problems we now face is to do the right thing. We must listen to that still small voice, our conscious, which can so easily be overruled by self-desires, resentment and fear.

The cast is sincere, the direction taut, and despite a couple of profanities, the script pays homage to church-going and a place in our lives for spiritual matters.

Not rated, the film’s content includes several obscenities, including three uses of the f-word; God’s name is profaned once, as is Christ’s; adultery is committed, but the man sees the error of his ways and makes several positive changes in his life; bigoted whites learn to do the right thing; and blacks show compassion for those who have wronged them; there are a few uses of the N-word by both whites and blacks, but in each case it shows ignorance; there is also much drinking as hurting people seek solace from their problems; there is some passionate kissing and one brief sexual situation, with a woman in her underwear, but the scene does not become graphic; a man cuts his hand, a great deal of blood is seen. Nothing in the content seems exploitive, but rather reveals characters trying to find their way.

Running Time: 98 min. Intended Audience: Older teens and adults