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Lakeview Terrace


Stars: Samuel L Jackson, Kerry Washington, Patrick Wilson, Ron Glass, Jay Hernandez, Justin Chambers

Director: Neil LaBute

Many of us have had the misfortune to meet him before: the neighbour from hell. And there's not much you can do about him - however much he makes your life a misery. The trouble with this well-made and faintly disturbing film, however, is that the balance of the drama is tipped towards Jackson (the best actor with the best part) as a bigoted racist cop.

The problems of his new neighbours, a mixed-marriage couple (Washington, Wilson) seem hardly worth worrying about; writers Howard Korder and David Loughery's efforts to make them more interesting are, at best, tentative, and the actors themselves bring little to their roles. Jackson, though, is magnetic as Abel, a near-retirement widower cop (it's a wonder his wife put up with him) with two young children, who takes agin white Wilson and black Washington from the outset. 'You can listen to that rap music all you like,' he tells Wilson in his car. 'But in the morning you'll still be white.'

Things get worse. Security lights from the cop's house shining into the young couple's rooms at night escalate to Jackson chopping down plants that are 'on his property', then to his hiring a goon to trash their house and finally (and somewhat improbably) to a gun-toting showdown. Pity his poor kids. Meanwhile, Washington and Wilson - she stops taking birth pills to get pregnant without discussing it with him - hardly engage our sympathy. Sharply done, but not much fun.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Sony (Screen Gems). Technicolor.
106 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 02 Dec 2008