Out now on video (and Netflix, where I got a hold of it) is one of the first films to give a perspective on being an (African-American) Muslim in the post 9/11 age. Mooz-lum stars Evan Ross as a young man going into his freshmen year of college, trying to find the right balance of respecting the values of his childhood while taking advantage of the freedom of being out from under his suffocating parents. (I realize looking at that sentence that more or less describes every freshmen going to college doesn’t it? Let’s move on…)
I’ve heard various opinions on this film from Muslims and non-Muslims, film geeks and casual interested parties. Personally, I liked it. It reminded me alot of Spike’s earliest films, where you knew walking in you were getting a message, and the plot points of the story moved you in that direction. The college setting also gave me some ‘Higher Learning’ flashbacks, but that may be because movies set in college are rarely this serious.
Saying that I want to be clear on this: Mooz-lum is not a ‘Tyler Perry film, but with Muslims in it.’ And I don’t mean that in a way to be disrespectful to what Mr. Perry does, but this film is not a gospel film. You get insight into the story of one Muslim family, (and I’m not familiar enough with the director to know how autobiographical it was), but the ‘I was lost and now I’m found’ element of this story is more…subdued.
Last comment is for 2 of the lead actors. Nia Long, Hall of Fame gorgeous as any brotha will tell you, but in this film she plays the mother of the family. Her sex appeal isn’t an asset for this character, but she still nailed the part. She’s an actress.
And Evan Ross…who knew? I have this conversation with some of my black film geek friends, but it bears repeating: we have a nice group of 20 something black actors and actresses who can all pull their weight. If we ever get another ‘Golden Age of Black Cinema’, we should be more than covered with people who can give us quality performances if put in the right roles.
Until next time…