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Life, Love, Soul

Admirable only for its sincere responsibility-over-selfishness message and for giving The Wire alums Chad Coleman and Jamie Hector some big-screen work, Life, Love, Soul otherwise proves to be just a low-rent Tyler Perry–style melodrama. Gifted 17-year-old student Roosevelt (Robbie Tate-Brickle) has his happy life undone by the death of his loving lawyer mom (Tami Roman) and brother, which forces him to move in with estranged construction-worker dad Earl (Coleman). Bitter father-son friction is the catalyst for coming-of-age growth for Roosevelt, whose development is also aided by Earl's white wife, Jennifer (Tamara Fay), kind teacher Mr. Roundtree (Hector), and new girlfriend, Kyna (Mia Michelle). Writer/director Noel Calloway dramatizes his protagonist's ordeal with uneven focus, skipping over key emotional transitions and providing abrupt perspectives and changes of heart in a way that disingenuously pushes the film's pro-school, pro-paternal-accountability lessons. Mannered dialogue and a limited number of functional set locations (living room, classroom, bedroom) leave the material feeling stilted and claustrophobic, constricting any sense of genuine tumult or passion. Also not helping Life, Love, Soul's saga of wounded male maturation and healing are the cornball ballads by John Mayer and Creed.

 
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