I saw Lakeview Terrace yesterday and it’s still on my mind. Normally movies with a crazy neighbor (bonus points if he/she is a cop) and the hapless newcomer to the neighborhood they terrorize don’t stick with me or even bother me but this movie is still on the brain.
It made me think more about interracial relationships, the work that goes into one and the idea that you could be a target of such hatred just because of who you are with. Granted, this is a movie and I hope that no one would go to such extremes no matter the motivation, but it puts that thought in the back of my mind… are people so race crazy they would go to these lengths? Could I have stuck it out in an interracial relationship? Is it worth the hassle?
Film analysis after the jump, just to be safe so I get no bitching about possibly spoiling the movie
Samuel Jackson portrays a widower (Abel Turner) with a teen daughter and younger son who live in California. He’s a 28 year veteran cop and is a very strict authoritarian with his family. The house next door seems to be vacant, until the morning the film starts.
He sees what he thinks is a black couple with an older man and younger woman. He seems to disapprove of this but is probably thinking ok, their black at least. He sees the white guy hauling in boxes and thinks he’s the moving help and not an occupant. His whole demeanor changes when he sees the older black man drive off and the young interracial couple embracing in the driveway.
Just before he starts spying on his new neighbors, we see him chastise his son for wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey, and its not obvious why he’s so anti-Bryant until the spying scene. He’s pretty much anti-mixed couple and flat out racist against anyone who isn’t black. There’s little things back and forth between him and the neighbors, but its clear he’s crazy, just plain crazy and even seeing them together makes his anger (and psychosis) go into the stratosphere.
While the movie is a “thriller” as it were, it does put some questions out there for the viewer to ponder while the characters go through hell with their psychotic neighbor. Do we have kids? How do we protect them? Or how would you protect them is posed to the white son-in-law (Chris) by his black father in-law. The fact that the wife (Lisa) is obsessed with starting a family and seems oblivious to what bringing a mixed-race child into the world means in terms of work, dealing with stupid people, hatred, etc.
We find out late in the film that the reason Abel is so over the top filled with rage at white folks is that his wife had been killed 3 years prior in a head on collision while in a car with her white supervisor. He wonders “what was she doing with him on the 101 in the middle of the day when she was supposed to be cleaning up some old Jew on Fairfax?” This comes as a slightly drunk confession to Chris when they run into each other at the neighborhood bar after an ugly confrontation over some rose bushes Chris and Lisa had planted along the fence that divides their properties.
I thought the movie could have gone a little deeper into Turner’s psyche and his hatred of white men because it just seemed like this anger over a question he could never get answered seemed to be too much to carry for this long. Granted, we don’t get too much of a peek into Turner’s past other than the mention of how his wife is killed and why that’s his motivation for his racism. Who knows, maybe he always hated white people and that’s what drove him over the edge?
Either way, I think its a good film for what it is and I do like the twist that the crazy is race motivated but I think it could have been a deeper film on the back end reasons for the character motivations. Maybe I’m asking too much from a film that’s billed as a thriller?