She's Gotta Have It (1986)
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Despite the suggestive title, what "she" has got to have is control over her own body, her own love life, and her own life in general in this breakthrough debut feature by celebrated director Spike Lee. A trio of semi-losers are in one way or another after exclusive control of the heartstrings of Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns). Jamie (Redmond Hicks) is the sensitive but possessive type, while the other two run the gamut between Greer (John Terrell) a narcissistic hunk who models for a living and Mars (Spike Lee), a fast-talking comic. While Nola comes off less convincing than her three suitors, one of the better moments in the film occurs when she invites them all to dinner and they get a chance to do their best (and worst). Pinched together in two weeks on a budget that ranks well below modest, Spike Lee raked in over $7,000,000 on this film. Certainly the Hollywood types who refused to back this modest effort after Lee's astounding 60-minute student film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, were crying in their soup. … More
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Critic Reviews for She's Gotta Have It
All the elements of an interesting yarn are implicit here -- save one: a compelling central figure
This delightful low-budget comedy, with its all black cast and black humour, is 100 per cent Lee.
The film probes important and intriguing questions, even if the characters are not explored as thoroughly as they might have been.
Made for less than $30,000, Lee's first feature posed him as a mid-80s rival to Woody Allen, nearly equaling him in the psychological authenticity of his characters and perhaps bettering him in grace and virtuosity and sheer creative glee.
Light, scrappy entertainment that flatters everything funky and fresh about Lee, tempting you to forgive what is stunted or abrasive in the film. A major swaying element is his own on-screen persona.
Combining humor, drama, and documentary techniques, Lee has created an energetic film that takes an unflinching look at modern sexuality -- specifically black sexuality.
From the start, it was less important whether or not you agreed with Lee than if you appreciated him for stirring things up.
She's Gotta Have It's characters talk into the camera, but they do so in service of a Rashomon-tinged postmortem on how an artistic young woman couldn't make polyamory work in her favor.
New York Negro neurosis as source material for mirth, amusement and introspection, like a Woody Allen classic, only in blackface.
An assured debut, which Spike Lee produced, wrote, directed, edited, and acted in, offers him opportunity to show a slice of black urban life in which white characters don't even exist; the title and heroine's name are deliberately B-porn like picture
A good first effort that lacks quality acting and overall polish, but compensates with insightful black man's humor.
She's Gotta Have It is funny, honest and brave, and unafraid to admit to complexities and contradictions within the African-American world it portrays.
Fledgling Spike Lee work. More interesting than good
Audience Reviews for She's Gotta Have It
Spike Lee's debut feature is a racially orientated sex comedy examining attitudes within a love triangle of black suburbanites. Some witty lines but it's a little affected and self-absorbed, and it often feels like an african-american rip off of a Woody Allen film. Not bad though.More
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