Black and White James Toback
Published Apr 01, 2000Black and White is a movie of many possibilities, a potential that goes largely unfulfilled. The problem actually that there are too many good stories running through it for writer/director James Toback to give any one of them the proper attention it deserves: the rich white girl who talks and acts as if she was born in Harlem; the basketball player who's tempted by a gambler to throw a game; childhood friends who find that they have to either betray each other or face their own downfall. They're all good stories, but they all go largely untold. There's also the story of the basketball player's girlfriend (Claudia Schiffer) whose behaviour is unpredictable and whose motives would make a fascinating character study, if only the movie bothered to take the time to do so.
But even though the movie only provides us with tidbits rather than an actual story, there are still a lot of interesting, and sometimes hilarious, moments along the way. The best of these are provided by Robert Downey Jr. and Mike Tyson. Downey's character, though married (to Brooke Shields), is obviously gay. And he takes perverse pleasure in bating men by making passes at them and threatening their sexuality. When Downey approaches Tyson and starts making advances, the audience cringes with anticipation.
There are a lot of threads running through Black and White, but Toback is unable to weave them into a rich movie. Instead, just one story line begins to engage us, it gets dropped as quickly as it was picked up. There are too many loose threads left hanging and the movie begins to fray.