Film Reviews

LAKEVIEW TERRACE

By • Sep 15th, 2008 •

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The neighborhood bully with a badge.

I related to LAKEVIEW TERRACE. My neighborhood was held hostage for years by a woman with 3 children (future B&E felons), who terrorized my street after her husband ran off with his personal trainer. Her bizarre behavior and disregard for the community association rules led to my, and other neighbors, constant complaints to the Peccole Ranch Community Association and Wachenhut “security”. The PRCA could do nothing; after all, you pay $100 a month to insure that the right bushes are planted.

Her sons built a front lawn skateboard slide that rivaled the one at the neighborhood park; every afternoon a bunch of kids were bussed in to use it. She had 5 dogs. The lady’s ex-husband paid her daily violation fines. I wrote letters and made angry phone calls. I tried to start a neighborhood petition but no one would sign it. She eventually freed the neighborhood by overdosing on drugs. Her sons found her.

Interracial couple Chris (Patrick Wilson) and Lisa (Kerry Washington) move into a house sight-unseen. It’s a gorgeous, leafy neighborhood in L.A. and they have a police officer living next door. For no apparent reason, the neighbor, Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), takes an instant dislike to the couple.

There were also concerns that my next-door neighbors were Middle East terrorists. When other neighbors saw unusual activity – cars coming and going – they told me they decided that, even if the homeowners were terrorists, they were too nice to “inform on”.

Abel introduces himself to Chris by making suggestive racist comments. What does Abel want? What happened to the last owners of the house? Did he drive them out? Chris and Lisa never ask their realtor or the other neighbors. Apparently, the rest of the neighbors have buckled under Abel’s tyranny but these two lovebirds quickly enrage Abel by having sex in their pool while his kids watch. Okay, that’s not exactly what good neighbors do. Abel’s wife died because of what he perceived as hospital racism and he is out to get even with everybody he comes in contact with.

Chris and Lisa never heard of blackout drapes, so when Abel begins his harassment with outdoor high intensity strobe lights and throwing his garbage on their lawn, it’s “game on!” He also tattles on Chris for smoking. Lucky for them, they don’t have a dog.

I don’t know if interracial couples constantly discuss the social dynamics of their relationship, but this is set in L.A. and not the Deep South. In any case, their relationship is more real and honest then any I’ve seen in movies. They argue, they don’t get along. They have problems with being an obvious “interracial couple”.

I’m not convinced that Abel was in fact, a racist. I just got the feeling he hated everyone and was a barely-contained bully. He just quickly accessed Chris’s feelings of inadequacy (which was clearly shown in his relationship to Lisa’s sophisticated, executive father) and acted on it.

Jackson is a fearless actor and his Abel has no redeeming qualities or coaches Little League Baseball. He’s a tight-ass even with his kids. The unusual racial tension is something we usually do not see in movies. Abel resents Lisa as much as he dislikes Chris but he never quite relates to her as a “sister”.

If you live in an apartment, you can successfully ignore your neighbors, but when a neighbor doesn’t cover up their garbage or keeps their garage door open, it does start to look like harassment. And, as Chris and Lisa find out, things begin to escalate very fast.

LAKEVIEW TERRACE is Jackson at his PULP FICTION best, a menacing preacher no one wants to listen to.

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