EmptyCANNES -- The racial divide in a small South Carolina town is moving closer to half full than half empty in this heartfelt social drama. Using the 40-year anniversary of the death of a local Civil Rights leader, "Gospel Hill" percolates with warmth and human insight.
With a cast featuring Angela Bassett, Danny Glover and Nia Long, it may garner some appreciative applause on the festival circuit domestically and would be a solid selection for BET during Black History Month.
With a storyline as hardscrabble as the small town's residents, "Gospel Hill" is smartly devoid of social preaching or guilt-trippings. Under director Giancarlo Esposito's intelligent hand, this spare yet radiant film brims with the fears, frustrations and dreams of the town's individuals. Accordingly, it is much more than a neat sociological/historical treatise. The joys and messiness of life in this small town, while influenced by its racist past, are no longer cemented in racial divisions. More naturally, people now divide on personalities, over music and the sundry of life's other distinctions.