Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Gender Bender/Minor lesbian character
Short Take: The story of growing up in an upstate New York boarding house. Ricky is one of the boarders, a butch lesbian who looks fine in a man’s suit.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2005
Duration: 95 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: George C. Wolfe
Writer: Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Starring: S. Epatha Merkerson, Marcus Carl Franklin, Mos Def, Carmen Ejogo, Bill Simms Jr., Louis Gossett Jr., Macy Gray, Terrence Howard, Ernie Hudson, Delroy Lindo, Rosie Perez, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Jimmy Smits, Patricia Wettig

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Lackawanna BluesLackawanna Blues is the story of Junior (Marcus Carl Franklin) and his life growing up in an upstate New York boarding house run by Nanny (S. Epatha Merkerson, She’s Gotta Have It, ‘Law & Order’). Nanny is the mother of the African-American community there in the 1950s and ’60s, and many of her tenants are misfits who all find a family there under her watchful eye and loving heart.

Ricky (Adina Porter, Gia) is one such boarder, a butch lesbian who looks fine in a man’s suit. Says Junior, ‘I thought Ricky was the coolest dude living there … and she was.’ Ricky is a constant in the house over the years, often in the background, but without much character development or a storyline of her own.

Most of the film focuses on Nanny and Junior’s observations of her as she takes care of countless individuals who need a helping hand. The supporting cast is amazing, with Mos Def, Louis Gossett Jr., Macy Gray, Ernie Hudson, Rosie Perez, Jimmy Smits and Patricia Wettig. The other constant is great music, especially when it comes to the blues.

Based on the autobiographical one man show by Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Their Eyes Were Watching God) and co-produced by Halle Berry. Although Ricky has a small part, this is a very moving drama with a fine soundtrack. (AB)