Struggling to pay the bills, single mom Naima (Jennifer Hudson) sends her teenage son Langston (Jacob Latimore) to live with his estranged grandparents, Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett) in New York City. At first Langston resents their strict household, but with the help of new friends — and a little divine intervention — he embarks on an inspirational journey of self-discovery that brings the whole family together.
Cast & Crew
Even the movie's most wretched characters glow in the Harlem lamplight.
Its pastoral ambitions compensate for its lack of finesse.
By the time the film reaches its biblically inspired dreamscape of a climax, "Black Nativity" qualifies as equal parts surreal and stirring.
Kasi Lemmons' contemporary adaptation is an uplifting holiday extravaganza with a musical score filled with familiar spiritual standards plus some new songs by Raphael Saadiq and Laura Karpman that underscore themes of faith, healing and family.
Hudson soars (duh) on the vocal numbers, and Whitaker (double duh) is a tower of integrity and crushingly human. But "Black Nativity" isn't about stars, it's about unity, faith and family. As such it shines.
Black Nativity offers a whopping serving of Yuletide emotion. And it's a musical - with plenty of wailing and rapping on the side.
It's good to see Hudson in a major film again. As an actress, she's still a work in progress, but she has a commanding gift for depicting vulnerability and strength almost simultaneously.