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I want to begin this by saying I’m a John Sayles fan. Lone Star is one of my favorite films. The same cannot be said of Honeydripper. There is a strong temptation to make use of the title in this review both for what it could have been and what, sadly, it was. At first I resisted, and then, well, I didn’t. First the former: the stifling Alabama heat, the expressive blues, the racial tension, the religious questions–all had the potential to add up to a sexy, heated film about living our dreams, overcoming our demons, and the power of music to guide us along the way. That would’ve been the honey. What resulted was more of the drip; Mr. Sayles, the dripper–and not in a good way. While there are moments of quirkiness that give the film an offbeat and original charm, most of the color-by-number characters and formulaic story feel as thought you’ve hit the “blues preset” on your Casio instead of the electric charge Danny Glover’s character, Tyrone Purvis, and his partner Maceo so desperately want you to believe is pulsing through their veins and forcing them to risk everything for. As an experienced cotton picker in the fields tells Gary Clark Jr’s character, Sonny, “Everything in life has a rhythm.” Unfortunately, Honey Dripper spends more time bashing us over the head with that ideal than ever finding its own.

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