Once in the Life (2001)
Critic Consensus: Once in a Life is a promising directorial effort by Laurence Fishburne. But the story is too conventional and similar to the many ghetto action/dramas that come before it.
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Actor Laurence Fishburne makes his debut as a director in this urban drama adapted from his one-act stage play +Riff Raff. 20/20 Mike (Fishburne) and his half-brother Torch (Titus Welliver) bump into each other under less than ideal circumstances -- both are in jail, Mike on parole violation and Torch for theft. Torch is a heroin addict who has trouble financing his habit, so when Mike says he has a plan to make some quick money, Torch is more than eager to help. Mike and Torch try to swindle Hector (Andres "Dres" Titus), who works with his uncle Freddie Nine Lives (Dominic Chianese Jr.) as a bagman for drug kingpin Manny Rivera (Paul Calderon). While Mike and Torch are able to grab a large cache of heroin that Hector is carrying for Manny, the plan soon goes haywire and Hector and his men suffer heavy casualties. Mike and Torch go on the lam, while Manny's henchmen find Freddie and beat a confession out of him -- in which he names Mike and Torch as the thieves. Manny wants his money back and hires an enforcer named Tony (Eamonn Walker) to find Mike and Torch and get the cash. To insure that Tony doesn't waste time, Manny holds Tony's wife (Annabella Sciorra) captive until the money is returned. Noted jazz artist Branford Marsalis composed the film's original music score. … More
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as 20/20 Mike
as Freddie Nine Lives
as Freddie Nine Lives
as Little Billy
as Little Mickey
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Critic Reviews for Once in the Life
While the line-readings are often dead-on, Fishburne's movie suffers from the usual one-room claustrophobia and Mametian repetitions.
Serves only to demonstrate that Fishburne, a talented, inventive actor, is, unfortunately, not ready to write and direct motion pictures.
Despite numerous cutaways to juice things up, a movie that once moved becomes static and verbal in the stretch.
In opening up his play for a filmed version, Once in the Life, Fishburne may have only succeeded in magnifying the flaws of his original.
Audience Reviews for Once in the Life
I had a small part in this film as the desk clerk at the apartment building. Had alot of great conversation with Lawrence. Great direction. Made me feel comfortable. Thanks Lawrence!
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