HOLLYWOOD BLACK FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! “Nikita wants to give her teacher more than just a red apple!” Don’t be fooled by this provocative tag line. Yes, the hook for this drama is high schooler Nikita’s (Essence Atkins) inappropriate attraction to her impossibly hunky English teacher, Mr. Jackson (Kenney Lee). But that’s all it is, the salaciously enticing bait that writer-director Marc Cayce uses to reel the audience. In reality, the film’s an afterschool special-level morality play in which young Nikita must learn selflessness and maturity–not only in terms of her lust for Mr. Jackson, but also such hobbies as making quick bucks by reselling clothing she steals from her workplace. Yet the youth drama obviousness is just another veneer, for its preachiness is a harbinger of what the film ultimately reveals itself to be: full-blown Christian propaganda.
This would have a been a bit easier to swallow had Cayce confined his focus to Nikita, but he also includes a peculiar parallel story involving a street tough (William L. Johnson) who yearns to give up his small-time criminal ways yet continues to associate with his boorish white best friend (Eddy Rubin), with whom he simply argues all the time. This thread intertwines with the primary Nikita one in a very clunky manner, their initial intersection also being quite insulting: the friend nearly rapes Nikita’s best friend, a plot point that is quickly brushed aside. For the most part, the performances are awkward and broad; Atkins plays up Nikita’s unsympathetic qualities a bit too strongly, thus erasing any chance of audience investment. Making the most positive impression is Lee, but his screen presence can only do so much for a role that is never more than a one-dimensional symbol, of both sex “and” upstanding moral values.