It's November 4, 2008, and Brooklyn is bristling with anticipation about the impending election returns to see whether or not Barack Obama will be the nation's first African-American president. But the magic of the moment is pretty much lost on John aka MC Wordsmith (Dorian Missick), James aka Jay-V (Gbenga Akinnagbe) and Terry aka DJ Malik (Darien Sills-Evans), despite the fact that they're black and hail from the 'hood.
Back in the early Nineties, the three shared a brief promising career as the Down Low Poets, a fledgling hip-hop group which produced a video, two singles and an unreleased album before disappearing from the record-biz radar. The band disbanded, went their separate ways and lost touch entirely.
Today, with Obama poised to make history, we find each consumed by a personal crisis. John has just been laid off from his job as an IT technician. James is now a book publicist in a stagnant relationship and considering seducing his handsome, young intern (Zachary Booth). Only Terry is still an aspiring rap star, and stubbornly refuses to see the handwriting on the wall after a couple of decades squandered desperately trying to make it in the music business.
By a twist of fate, their paths cross at an election night party where Obama's achievement only serves as a distracting backdrop. Proving far more compelling are the personal questions being raised. What are John's chances with the stripper (Yaya Alafia) he just picked up at a go-go bar?
Will out-of-the-closet James' once-hidden homosexuality remain a block to repairing relationships with his former pals, especially his cousin, John? Will Terry drop the hip-hop moniker, pull up his pants, and get a real job?
Written and directed by Neil Drumming, Big Words is a perfectly plausible, character-driven drama with only one glaring flaw. Why bother to set an African-American tale on Election Night 2008, if you plan to give Obama's triumph such short shrift?
A poignant portrait of a very eventful day in the lives of a trio too self-absorbed to care about who was about to win the White House.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: AFFRM / Twice Told Films