The Piano Lesson (1995) Charles S. Dutton, Alfre Woodard, Carl Gordon, Tommy Hollis, Lou Myers, Courtney B. Vance Movie Review

The Piano Lesson (1995)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Charles S. Dutton in The Piano Lesson (1995)

Days of Future and Past

Boy Willie (Charles S. Dutton) has a chance of buying some land so that he can work for himself rather than someone else; trouble is he hasn't got the money. It is why he heads down to his sisters Bernie's (Alfre Woodard) with a truck full of water melons as whilst planning on selling them he also plans on selling the piano, a family heirloom which his sister has in her home. Thing is that there is no way that Bernie is going to allow him to sell it no matter how many plans he comes up with.

As a white man in his 40s who has only ever lived in England I doubt I am the right person to review "The Piano Lesson" this made for TV adaptation of an August Wilson play. In fact I reckon if I had watched it back in 1995 I would have probably not even watched it for the simple reason it wasn't the sort of action movie or sports drama I enjoyed in my mid twenties. But now this is the sort of movie I chose to watch even if may be I don't fully appreciate what it is about.

Alfre Woodard in The Piano Lesson (1995)

So what do I think it is about? Well I think "The Piano Lesson" is about change as we have Bernie holding on the family piano beautifully engraved with carvings as those carvings tell her family history of being slaves. But we have her brother who doesn't hold dear the history of his family and sees it as a way of escaping the slavery which has been a big part of his family and making something of himself. We also have old wounds surrounding the death of Bernie's first husband and her own moving on when it comes to relationships. As such this is all about the lesson which the piano teaches both Willie and Bernie when it comes to respecting the past but making something of the future. Thing is that maybe that isn't what the movie is about as we also have what appears to be some sort of a ghost story and to be honest whilst I enjoyed the movie I finished it not entirely sure I got it.

Despite this "The Piano Lesson" certainly has some entertaining performances with Charles S. Dutton playing the part of Willie as larger than life with big movements and facial expressions when it comes to the way he reacts. And Alfre Woodard delivers a powerful performance with fewer words and provides a nice contrast between Willie and Bernie when it comes to their mentalities to their past.

What this all boils down to is that "The Piano Lesson" is an entertaining look at African American culture delivering the contrast between attitudes in a family where one holds on the past whilst another wants to move on from the past. It is a movie which whilst having some captivating musical scenes is all about the acting with Charles S. Dutton leading the way with a memorable performance.


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