SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this if you want to watch the movie.
WARNING: This is going to be a little all over the place because I’m still trying to take it all in.
So a few friends and I went to the movies on Friday night to watch Deitrick Haddon’s A Beautiful Soul. I was so excited to watch it because his first movie, Blessed & Cursed¸ was amazing. This one…not so much.
DISCLAIMER: I love Deitrick Haddon! It hurts me to write this review, but what type of journalist would I be if I only write about the good?
Moving on…I don’t even know where to start. Well, let’s start with the plot…or lack thereof. Deitrick Haddon plays Andre’ Stephens, an R&B singer focused on himself, his money, and women. His world changes when he gets shot by his bodyguard and goes through an “A Christmas Carol” style transformation (really you couldn’t think of anything else?). Honestly, I felt the plot was weak; it didn’t really go anywhere. One day Andre’ Stephens is living on top of the world; the next moment he’s dating one of the girls he picked up backstage at the concert before he got shot who, by the way, ended up being the nurse who cared for him while he was in a coma for 4 months. Yea. While the movie was supposed to be inspirational, the inspiration could easily be missed if you’re not looking for it. After waking up, Andre’ Stephens changed the type of music he wrote and he wasn’t as selfish but that’s really all that was transformed. I was looking for more of the gospel.
Though it’s acting, I had a slight issue with Deitrick Haddon playing the role he did. Or maybe it was just the bad acting. It was a little awkward to see a gospel singer and pastor gyrating on stage surrounded by half-naked ladies. Also, he cursed once which kind of threw me. Granted it wasn’t a crazy word (he said ‘ass’), but it still didn’t feel right. I totally understand that acting is not real life; but at the same time you have to be conscious of your image. But not only that. Because I’m used to Deitrick Haddon the pastor and gospel singer his role wasn’t really believable to me. It was more like “uhh what are you doing”?
The transformation actually confused me a little bit. I’m hoping that Deitrick and his team were trying to show that spiritual transformation takes time, but I’m not so certain that’s what it was. He wrote a song after he got out of a coma and the hook was “imma get off these streets and go to the church”. Yea. Exactly. I’m not quite sure if Andre’ Stephens just became a better person or if he actually dedicated his life to Christ. At the end of the movie, Andre’ Stephens is performing a new set. Behind him is your typical church band and the crowd is more diverse; however, the dancers threw me off. He was singing a song about Jesus but the dancers were still dancing in a suggestive manner and they were showing much more skin than necessary. Can someone explain this to me? I’ve never been to a gospel concert and seen the dancers in booty shorts and bare midriffs. Maybe that just happens in Detroit.
Now let’s talk about the actual picture. I’ve studied media and I believe I have a pretty good idea of what quality production is…lol. However, when watching independent movies I always keep in mind the budget constraints they have. But, because of all the technology that is easily accessible now I feel like that’s not a good enough excuse to produce a mediocre picture. Yea, your budget may not allow it to look like something distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment; but it also shouldn’t look like a home video with some random effects. There are a couple things that bothered me about the overall quality. (This is crazy because I don’t remember these issues being in his first movie. Now I feel like I have to go watch that one to compare.)
First, his guardian angel was talking to him through an iPad. Very 21st century, but also very weird. Second, there was a bright purple light flashing in the middle of the screen. This was supposed to show us that he was in an alternate world (It wasn’t heaven. It wasn’t hell. It wasn’t earth. Can somebody please tell me where he was and find out if it’s biblical!!!). It looked amateur. I’m sure there was another way they could have shown the difference (i.e. change the picture color). Third, when Andre’ Stephens was in limbo (or whatever weird in-between life and death thing they had going on) there were clouds to symbolize heaven and bright lights when his mother came to visit him. (Is it even possible for us to go through a spiritual journey that doesn’t exist on earth?) It was just bad. It literally looked like a screensaver; it was not believable at all. Fourth, when his friend Chris Scott died, they used some type of dissolve effect that reminded me of a video game. The shots were choppy, angles could’ve have been more thought out and I could’ve sworn it was shaky in some parts as well.
The one glimmer of hope for this movie was Andre’ Stephens’ mother (played by Golden Brooks). Yes Golden Brooks!! Thank you for coming and saving the movie. I wish she played a larger role in the movie because she was so authentic. Her scenes were definitely bright and beautiful moments. But those moments were short-lived.
Overall, I was disappointed with this movie. I didn’t think it was coming to Jersey so I wasn’t planning on seeing it. When I heard it was showing at Jersey Gardens I was so excited; that excitement faded about 5 minutes into the movie. I’m afraid Deitrick Haddon didn’t survive the sophomore slump.
3rd times a charm.