Harvey's transition from editor to director is a brilliantly spare, edgy adaptation of LeRoi Jones' play, basically a two-hander set on a New York subway train: a grim duel between cat and mouse as a rangily sexy white woman circles a young black sitting alone, deliberately teasing, taunting, flaunting herself in a perverse attempt to break his control. Resentment and attraction crackle through the dialogue (and the superb performances) in an almost orgiastic expression of provocation and desire, until she wins and the black is goaded into retaliation. It ends, of course, in violence: a devastating acknowledgment that this is just about the only ground on which black and white can meet. The film's one minor flaw is when the camera eventually pulls back from the duo to reveal that the carriage has filled with commuters studiously minding their own business; true to life, perhaps, but it comes over as a facile trick.
Cast and crew
Al Freeman Jr