Today, Brooklyn is mostly the home of gentrifiers from the Midwest, with a few Black and Latinx families struggling to make rent. In the 80’s, Brooklyn was the Mecca of the crack epidemic that decimated hundreds of families and changed thousands of lives. But in 1973, Brooklyn was a haven for Black and Latino families. A place full of colour, culture, music, and life. A place where children could go to the store alone, play in the street, not fear any gangs, or be harassed by the police.
In this iconic Spike Lee’s joint, we meet Troy (Zelda Harris), a bright, energetic, opinionated little girl, and her family, which consists of five brothers, and their parents. Troy’s life isn’t a stereotype: Her family is on food stamps, but they’re together for dinner every night. Her brothers are wild and rambunctious, but they aren’t violent. Her father (Delroy Lindo) is unemployed, but he isn’t lazy or without talent and ambition. Her mother (Alfre Woodard) has 5 kids, but she also has a job as a schoolteacher.
In this nostalgic slice-of-life, we see a refreshing relief from the often depressing (and flat-out untrue) ways that Black families are portrayed. There is arguing, love, laughter, and companionship in Troy’s family. And the kids in the neighbourhood are children: naive, mischievous, loud, and hilarious. In the summer of ’73, little Troy learns how to be a better daughter, a firmer yet gentler sister, and finds room in her heart for her country cousin, with whom she becomes fast friends.
Nonetheless, Crooklyn keeps it’s “coming-of-age” title when Troy deals with the first real hardship of her life, with the film heavily alludeing to the rise of drugs and drug addicts in Brooklyn, via stoners Right Hand and Snuffy (Spike Lee). Though we can only imagine how difficult Troy’s life will be in a family filled with males who have never learned to be responsible or care for themselves independently, the audience is sure that this little girl is up for the challenge. With Troy and her family, we see the very best of inner-city living and the joy of unedited, unapologetic Blackness. This beautiful homage to the last golden days of Bed-Stuy will always warm the heart.
I give this one 4.25 stars.