Down In The Delta

on December 25, 1998 by Kevin Courrier
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   Rosa Lynn (Mary Alice) is a matriarch in a Chicago ghetto who is watching her daughter, Loretta (Alfre Woodard), succumb to drugs and neglect her autistic daughter, Tracy. So Rosa Lynn ships Loretta, Tracy, and Loretta's younger brother Thomas to Mississippi to live with their Uncle Ray (Al Freeman Jr.) and Aunt Annie (Esther Rolle). While there, Loretta not only learns to clean up her act, but she also inherits the family heirloom which gives her the privilege of finally linking the family history.
   In "Down in the Delta," poet-turned-director Maya Angelou is trying to account for the difficulties facing the survival of black families, and she touches on serious issues, like urban despair and factory downsizing, that have hurt black capitalism. But she provides too simple a solution: "Go forth and find your roots."
   "Down in the Delta" is a failure of good intentions. Its noble aspirations are undermined by the simple homilies which smooth over contentious material. Starring Alfre Woodard, Al Freeman Jr., Mary Alice, Esther Rolle and Wesley Snipes. Directed by Maya Angelou. Written by Myron Goble. Produced by Rick Rosenberg, Bob Christiansen, Victor McGauley, Wesley Snipes and Reuben Cannon. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for drug-related material. Running time: 111 min
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