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Review: Brown Sugar movie

A formulaic romance with a sweet centre, the Brown Sugar movie device of choice is to keep the audience guessing when they clearly know the outcome. Childhood friends Dre (Taye Diggs) and Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) - forever bonded by a mutual love of hip-hop are secretly in love with each other, but will either of them admit their feelings? Read this review to find out.

The plot

Dre is a successful, but unfulfilled hip-hop producer. Sidney is a magazine editor who is researching a book about the history of hip-hop. The music drives the film. Both characters spend long periods reminiscing about the day they met when they were children, in a neighbourhood in New York City, and how they found something in music that gave their lives meaning. Everybody think that they should be together, but Dre is dating a high-flying lawyer called Reese (played as likeable, but uptight by the splendid Nicole Ari Parker) and Sidney is somewhat miss-matched with well-meaning, but slightly boring professional basketball player Kelby (Boris Kodjoe). As the day of Dre's wedding draws near, tension mounts as both Dre and Sidney begin to realise that they are meant to be together. However, is it too late?

The cast

By far, the most consistent element of this patchy film is the excellent ensemble cast. The two leads, Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan, deliver a romantic pairing whose chemistry keeps the whole thing ticking along. It's difficult not to root for them as a couple even if the process of them getting together seems to take an eternity. Hip-hop stars of the real world Mos Def and Queen Latifah turn in excellent performances in supporting best friend roles and provide most of the comic relief. Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe do an admirable job of putting obstacles in the path of true love.

Final word

The hip-hop equivalent of "When Harry Met Sally", is one of the better romantic comedies of the 2000s, even if it does seem too predictable in parts. Fans of hip-hop will appreciate the references and the Brown Sugar soundtrack is worth listening to, with contributions from Mos Def, Blackalicious, Mr Complex and Cassandra Wilson.

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