All Things Fall Apart

| February 14, 2012

All Things Fall Apart had such a surge of anticipation behind it’s release. The photos of a extremely thin 50 Cent hit the internet and caused an uproar. Is 50 Cent dying? A new persona for the rapper/actor? The rumors circulated. Finally the truth came out: 50 Cent lost the weight for an upcoming movie-one that could possibly give him Oscar nomination.

But what did we really want? For the film to fail miserably? to love it? See a 50 Cent Academy speech?

All Things Fall Apart tells the story of university star running-back and soon to be NFL draft pick Deon. Deon seems to have it all: friends, family, women, scholarships, and did I mention, he’s really great at football? But all that changes after Deon collapses in the locker room after the biggest game of his college career.

After a day’s worth of testing and waiting at the hospital, Dr. Britnall(Liotta) informs Deon and his family that a tumor has appeared dangerously close to his heart. He’ll require four months of chemotherapy and absolutely no psychical activity-especially football. The once destined pro-athlete now fears for his career.

Four months pass and Deon finds himself 70 pounds lighter and hairless-a shell of his former self. Eric(Van Peebles), his step-father, fears that Deon’s chance at the NFL are slipping while his mother Bee(Lynn Whitfeild) feels her son needs more time to recover. But with medical bills piling up and no more money to be found, Deon is forced to return to his family’s house. Sadly, it’s not the happy home he remembered.

Disappointed with Bee’s choice of spoiling Deon, Eric decides to leave the family. The split hurts emotionally and financially as Bee is forced pick up more shifts at her bar. Meanwhile, Deon’s dweeby brother Sean(Cedric Sanders) starts dating Deon’s ex, Sharon(Tracey Heggins). The two confront each other, but times have changed and Sean, not Deon, is the new man of the house.
School proves to be just as bad. Without the muscles and popularity, Deon finds himself abandoned by his former admirers. To add insult to injury, the star running back’s former coach even revoked his scholarship. The once destined superstar finds himself homeless, broke, and not able to enjoy his love of football.

But all hope is not lost-with a hopeful outlook and diligence, will Deon be able to become the NFL running-back he was intended to be?

According to 50, All Things Fall Apart is loosely based off his childhood friends experience-to what effect remains a mystery. Directed by Mario Van Peebles, the film is unsure what it truly wants to say. Peebles, known for his documentary-homage to his father Baadasssss and New Jack City, gives us many well-hidden clues throughout the story. HInts so subtly placed you’ll probably miss them in the film’s finale. With fellow screenwriter Brian A. Miller, writer and director of 50’s other feature Caught in the Crossfire, the three ultimately miss their chance at for compelling drama.

Despite a lacking story, All Things Fall Apart gets the right acting in the most unsubstantial moments. I remember thinking, “Yes, this mundane, but hilarious conversation between Deon and his friend June(Mike P) is great, but why can’t I understand the Bee’s dialogue during her breakdown?” Speaking of Mike P, the first time actor does a great job of playing the goofy, but lovable friend. This goes the same for the soft, but attractive performance by Tracey Heggins. Sadly, performances are hindered due to the typical style that has come out of this genre-what makes this different than Friday Night Lights?

Ray Liotta, who is first billed on IMDb regardless of his 10 minutes of screen time, falls into his classic cliche-calm then suddenly burst into a quick diatribe. The same burst of emotion that made him famous in GoodFellas and has appeared in his career over and over again. Lynn Whitfeild and Van Peebles really stuck out in the film as well suited for their roles, even if their relationship wasn’t as clear as necessity calls for. (We’re introduced that Eric is Deon’s step-father way late in the film. Possibly another clue?)

Thankfully, Curtis Jackson(50 Cent) lives up to the hype. In the first half, the muscled up Deon fills the screen with an excessive amount of smiling to show his superstar status, only pull at our heart strings after his life altering diagnosis. While he still suffers from stilted moments, Curtis has definitely improved since his performance in Get Rich or Die Tryin. What I really loved was the humility he had for himself-Curtis made me laugh intentionally! Due to the film’s negative publicity(a 4.6 on IMDb), Curtis will miss out on his on any nominations, but hopefully will keep acting. I wouldn’t mind seeing another one of his films, and not for comedy’s sake.

About the Author:

Daniel currently resides in New York City working as a freelance writer and director. He is a graduate of the Film and Video department of Columbia College, specializing in Italian Neo-realism and French & British New Wave cinema.
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