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DVD Review: Blackout

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Blackout is the gripping tale of life in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York during the blackouts that hit upper northeast America in 2003. Set in the simmering conditions of the tough New York neighborhood, Blackout presents the real life events of several of the residents as they fought their way through the worst power outage in America’s history.

The movie centers on the lives of everyday people during the blackout, and how their lives quickly changed for two days. Many of them are already desperate for a positive change and the burden of no electricity during the blazing summer heat adds fuel to their heated lives. Jerry Lamothe wrote and directed the film, and it stars Zoe Saldana (Vantage Point), Melvin Van Peebles, Jeremy Hector (The Wire) and Jeffrey Wright (Syriana), to name a few.

The film starts out on a normal day in Brooklyn, as people move through the streets in their normal manner. All of that changes as the power goes out. Tensions rise in general, and we watch the characters' lives unfold. The couple who were on the verge of break-up find themselves coming closer together. Michael B. Jordan (The Wire) plays a bright, college-bound young man, who is threatened by the menacing streets and another young thug. Melvin Van Peebles hands in an amazing performance opposite Saul Rubinek, as they come to terms during the blackout. Van Peebles is the maintenance man who is about to be fired by the property owner played by Rubinek. Their stories are changed when they come together during the outage and the streets are dark for those few agonizing days.

Directed and written by Jerry LaMothe, Blackout is an exceptional film, with vivid storylines that keep you interested in the final outcome. The movie puts a very human face on an historical event in America that many have probably forgotten about, as the power shortage turns into a trivia blurb in American pop culture. Blackout’s look back at life in New York, post-9/11, reveals the tension many people felt and reminds us how traumatic that event was to us all, but to New Yorkers in particular. One character, a survivor of the World Trade Center collapse, deals with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, unemployment, and an impending break-up. Another character is Arabic and faces open hostility, insults, and the looming threat that his store will be looted at anytime. All of these stories combined present a good look at life in New York after 9/11 and during the blackout.

Blackout is the winner of several awards including the 2007 Official Selection of the Tribeca Film Festival, and is out now on DVD through BET Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment.

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