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Blackout - drama/thriller DVD review
BLACKOUT unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Jeffrey Wright, Zoe Saldana, Melvin Van Peebles, Michael B. Jordan, LaTanya Richardson
Director: Jeffrey LaMothe   Studio: Paramount
DVD release: 12 February 2008   Runtime: 95 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English), Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1), Commentary: Director Interview w/ Jerry LaMothe, Behind-the-Scenes Special, Meet The Cast, 2003 Blackout: True Stories, Deleted Scenes

At 4:16pm on August 14, 2003, the lights went out in the northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada. This was the biggest blackout in US history, affecting an estimated 50 million people. Jerry LaMothe's Blackout takes us to Browser Street, Brooklyn, to see how the people in this neighborhood reacted to the event. Almost immediately, there was brazen looting. Young punks ran into stores and back out with the items they had coveted when they could see them in the flourescent light. People who worked in the city and relied on the subway to return them home ended up walking back to Brooklyn from Manhattan. Blackout looks at the insanity, the beauty, and the horror of what people can become when chaos strikes.

Sol (Saul Rubinek) is a white Jewish landlord who is on Browser Street checking up on the super who manages one of his properties. There have been complaints, and Sol's super, George (Melvin Van Peebles), is bound to get fired. Sol is stranded in Brooklyn when his ride doesn't show up to take him home after the power goes down. For safety's sake, he spends the night with George. They talk and listen to gunfire in the candlelight and learn a little about one another. George reveals qualities that impress Sol, and he must reconsider his decision.

Fatima (Susan Kelechi Watson) learns something about her man that she wouldn't have known had the power remained on, and perhaps she's better off for it in the end.

Claudine and James are on the rocks and about to split up. The blackout for them acts as a reset switch, giving their relationship some perspective.

As violence begins to boil and threatens to explode, the lights come back on. It's as if a bucket of cold water is thrown on all in the street. These neighbors look around and start to realize that they are supposed to be civilized. The loss of power made them savage, gave them animal power, but that time is over as the lights come back on at 4:26am.

This event brought out the best and worst in people, and LaMothe's film shows us both sides. We'd like to think that we're a civilized people, but in reality we may not be far removed from our animal ancestors. How would we react in a similar situation?
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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