The Letter: An American Town and the 'Somali Invasion'

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 15


Audience Score

User Ratings: 94
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Movie Info

This documentary explores the complicated story behind the divided town of Lewiston, ME. Once, Lewiston's 97 percent Caucasian population made it a uniformly white berg in the whitest state in America, while its profitable textile mill made the hamlet a model of the American dream. Half a century later, however, factory closings and an imploded industrial economy have left residents scratching for pennies and sourly resentful of the government-assisted "free ride" bestowed upon the 1,100 Somalis who have come seeking sanctuary. Being both black and Muslim in a post-9-11 society only aggravates the fearful tension. When the mayor publishes an open letter asking refugees to stop moving to Lewiston, with the media and the Klan's help, all hell breaks loose.


Critic Reviews for The Letter: An American Town and the 'Somali Invasion'

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (2)

  • Undeniably strong, The Letter is at times misleading and confusing, possessing the raw materials for a much more coherent and potent film.

    Aug 11, 2005 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A carefully wrought, historically grounded and thoroughly absorbing look at a quintessential American experience.

    Aug 11, 2005 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • As helpful as it is to realize that white supremacists are as loony in Maine as they are in Idaho or Florida, The Letter is too confused and confusing to make anything more than the most simplistic points.

    Apr 1, 2005 | Rating: 3/5
  • By allowing a range of residents' opinions to drive the narrative forward and ending on a positive note, [Hamzeh] made a film that won a standing ovation at its Lewiston premiere in January.

    Mar 31, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A powerful and timely portrait of the tensions that can be generated by immigration situations, especially in a post-Sept. 11 world.

    Feb 24, 2005
  • Some chilling characters are on display.

    Feb 14, 2005

    Robert Koehler

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Letter: An American Town and the 'Somali Invasion'

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