Our Rating: ★★★½☆
L Factor: Minor lesbian character
Short Take: Spike Lee’s first feature film, about a woman who loves sex
Alternate Titles:
Year: 1986
Duration: 88 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Spike Lee
Writer: Spike Lee
Starring: Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee, Raye Dowell, Joie Lee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Bill Lee

She’s Gotta Have It Trailer

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Shes Gotta Have ItSpike Lee’s first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It made way for a whole new wave of independent films. In particular, it portrayed African-Americans in Brooklyn in a new way, quite different from its Hollywood predecessors dominated by maids, pimps and drug dealers.

Shot in black and white, the film follows the love life of Nola (Tracy Camilla Johns), a woman who enjoys sex and doesn’t like to be tied down in a monogamous relationship. She is simultaneously dating stable and rather boring Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), conceited weightlifter/model Greer (John Canada Terrell) and funnyman Mars (Lee), who is long term unemployed. Although it is Nola’s story, we really see it from the lens of these three men.

All men seem to want Nola, but Nola isn’t so sure about them. Her lesbian friend Opal (Raye Dowell) also wants Nola, and although she seems a bit curious, Nola tells her a few times that she isn’t interested. Jamie, the most serious of the boyfriends, is a little worried and jealous about Opal, but believes that they are just friends, in part because he doesn’t think Opal looks like a lesbian.

Twenty-five years ago, She’s Gotta Have It was fresh and used unique filmmaking techniques. Watching it today is not quite the same, although the ‘80s clothes and hairstyles are fun, and we get to see the origin of the Mars Blackman character who afterwards appeared with Michael Jordan in Nike commercials.

(Warning that this film also contains a rape scene.) (AB)