A scene from SEVERAL FRIENDS, directed by Charles Burnett.

Several Friends (1969, Charles Burnett)

Several Friends is in four parts. The first part has nothing to do with the rest, except Eugene Cherry appearing in it. It’s four friends sitting in a car talking. Burnett’s composition is great, but his dialogue is even more impressive. For ninety percent of the film, Burnett’s dialogue is perfect.

It falters occasionally, usually during transition between the unidentified parts. Or when Cassandra Wright is on screen. Though none of the actors are professionals, Burnett gets fine performances out of them–the one he gets from Andy Burnett is phenomenal. But not Wright. She’s awful and she hurts the flow as the film moves from the opening part to the Andy Burnett dominated remainder.

It’s too bad.

Burnett does recover, mostly because he’s got Andy Burnett as the lead. When Charles Bracy shows up, he helps a lot too. The juxtaposition of the men is jarring.

It’s mostly exceptional.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Written, directed, edited and produced by Charles Burnett; director of photography, Jim Watkins.

Starring Andy Burnett (Andy), Eugene Cherry (Gene), Charles Bracy (Bracy), Cassandra Wright (Cassandra), Donna Deitch (Donna) and Deloras Robinson (Deloras).

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