The Visit

on April 20, 2001 by Tim Cogshell
   Based on the play by Kosmond Russell, which is itself based on true events, "The Visit" is the story of one man's search for understanding. Alex Waters (Hill Harper) is a young man from a middle-class black family. His mother (a remarkably good Marla Gibbs, who's best known from TV's "The Jeffersons") is loving while his father (Billy Dee Williams; also quite good) is demanding and stoic. His older brother (Obba Babatunde of HBO's "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge") is a successful family man who has always loved his little brother. Yet Alex sits in prison, a drug addict convicted of a rape he may or may not have committed, his body ravaged by HIV. What happened? That's the question, and the filmmakers try to answer through visits made to Alex by his estranged family, as well as a number of insightful sessions with his psychiatrist (Phylicia Rashad). Most poignant are the visits paid by a girl he knew in his youth (Rae Dawn Chong) who took a similar path but somehow found her way home.

   There's enough material here for a very good short film; at feature length, however, it's a bit taxed. Still, there are some good performances and the material speaks to some powerful issues.    Starring Hill Harper, Obba Babatunde, Rae Dawn Chong, Billy Dee Williams, Marla Gibbs and Phylicia Rashad. Directed, written and produced by Jordan Walker-Pearlman. An Urbanworld release. Unrated. Running time: 123 min.

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