Award-winning reporter Nate Blakeslee broke a story for the Texas Observer in 2000 about the travesty of justice that led to multiple bogus drug arrests in the small Texas town of Tulia. He told the stories of those caught up in the racist frame by narcotics officer Tom Coleman.
In the book the defendants, their families and their attorneys come across as three-dimensional individuals, consistently engaging the reader despite the wealth of details and the intricacies of the case.
Now John Singleton is on board to direct “Tulia”, a legal thriller from Lionsgate that reunites Monster's Ball co-stars Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thorton. Singleton takes over the director's chair from Carl Franklin (Devil in a Blue Dress), who was previously set to direct but then departed earlier this year.
Berry will play Vanita Gupta, the young defense lawyer fresh from law school who made the NAACP Legal Defense Fund take notice with her dedication.
One can only hope Thorton is cast as Coleman (as yet unclear), as he needs a juicy role to wrap his teeth around, but another racist character?
Halle Berry brings out the worst in him!
Singleton has not really had much to shout about since “Boyz ‘n the Hood” and that was a while ago. The man has not delivered on the talent he showed, and NEEDS this, otherwise he will be a one hit wonder.
The story of Tulia is a powerful one, but all too often melodrama and story lines are added to up the drama for the audience. And this is always a mistake.
I hate it when the studios feel the audience has to be given a reason for the hero’s interest/involvement in the case.
I do not care about your hero/heroine’s back-story to do with his/her father not loving him/her, and she/he needs to do this to prove to her/himself she/he is worth it.
Can our hero just be driven because they care? Did we need Jodie Fosters flash backs in “Silence of the Lambs”? No, not that it ruined the film, but they were not needed for the story. Jodie managed to convey more than the flash backs did.
With a good enough actor, a back-story can be filled out with gestures and body language. I am just not sure if Berry is that actor yet.
But the film has not yet been made, so I shouldn’t judge a book by its casting and director. Lets just hope it is approached with historical fact ‘cause nothing kills a movies buzz than people shouting that it didn’t follow truth. Stories like this deserve better.