Losing Isaiah

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -2

This emotionally powerful film documents the struggle between the two mothers of the same child. The first is Khaila (Halle Berry), the black birth mother of Isaiah (Marc John Jeffries) who is so addicted to crack cocaine that she leaves her baby in the garbage while she visits a crack house. The second mother is Margaret Lewin (Jessica Lange), a medical social worker who, along with her husband Charlie (David Straithairn), adopts the baby. After four years, Khaila has conquered her drug problem, learned to read while in prison and found gainful employment. When she discovers that Isaiah is still alive, she fights the adoption on the grounds that a black baby is better off with a black family than with the white Lewins. During the trial, the racial prejudices of both Khaila and Margaret become apparent. But it is in the ending, which offers some hope of compromise and reconciliation, where the true spirit of the movie is found. This is a well-acted and gripping movie about the power of love overcoming all barriers.

The film's positive message perfectly matches its absence of nudity, sexual situations, and violence. Unfortunately, the movie earns an R rating for its unnecessary profanities, crudities and obscenities. Its adult themes concerning drug abuse and racism make it inappropriate for youngsters, but without the offensive language, ISAIAH could have easily been rated PG-13. A few mild, suggestive references pepper the dialogue, but overall this would be a solid movie without the foul language. LOSING ISAIAH gets to the bottom of some of the most volatile issues under current discussion, such as family values and "racism," and does a competent, even-handed job. It is commendable that ultimately both mothers consider the welfare of the child above their own selfish desires. And though the movie still leans a little to the political left, it is much closer to "center" than other politicized topical movies to date. With its lack of violence and sexual content, this intelligent movie could be top-notch adult entertainment. Hollywood once again has put just enough offensive material in the script to turn discerning viewers away.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Paramount Communications, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, NY, NY 10023-7780

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (10) times - Mild 3, Moderate 7

Obscene Language: Many (16) times (f-words 2, s-words 11, others 3)

Profanity: Few (4) times - Regular 2 (G, G-d), Exclamatory 2

Violence: None

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (suggestive remarks; one brief shot of man and woman in bed next to each other)

Drugs: Few times (crack cocaine smoked but not condoned)

Other: Positive message on racial reconciliation

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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