Review: Black Mother, 2019, dir. Khalik Allah

Nothing’s quite as exciting to me as a critic as the opportunity to watch a film without the filmmaker holding my hand, “hand holding” being a multifaceted phrase. Mostly, I think of hand holding as exposition, either too much explanatory dialogue or, in the case of a doc, one too many talking head interviews to spell out the meaning of the footage that surrounds them.

This probably explains my admiration for Hale County This Morning, This Evening*, and if so, also explains my admiration for Khalik Allah’s Black Mother, a film in the same vein as RaMell Ross’ masterpiece**, but fixated entirely on Jamaica.

I’ll admit my ignorance to Jamaican history, and for that matter Jamaica’s present day. Ignorance makes Black Mother rocky-ish viewing, but only “ish.” Allah doesn’t hold hands. If you try to hold his hand he will shake your hand off like it’s covered in boogers. He has no interest in your hand. He’s interested in stream of consciousness storytelling about the country’s past and present, all wrapped up in the pregnancy of a black mother (hence the title of the movie). It’s stunning work.

You can read my full review over at Paste Magazine.

*…got robbed at the Oscars
**It’s been over a year since I first saw it, so I’m comfy with the appellation.


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