A film in which two of the key characters are a television producer and a novelist would normally suggest the artsy neurotics of Woody Allen's world. Yet they come from the first film by Malcolm D Lee (cousin of Spike, who also produces), the latest in a recent clutch of movies about America's educated blacks. It does seem absurd, even offensive, that the principal black American experience to have reached the screen has been that involving drugs, guns and fear. Even though "Boyz N The Hood", which opened the door to a wave of copycat films, was particularly strong, it's creatively and socially healthy to now film the middle class.
The spine for "The Best Man" is a first-time novelist, Harper (Taye Diggs), whose book has been leaked out to his best and oldest friends, all of whom have been used as source material and who now gather for the wedding of their famous football friend Lance (Morris Chestnut). Furthermore, Harper is to be Lance's best man. Reactions ricochet round the group like a ball in a pinball machine, and the whole nature of friendship is placed under the microscope.
Lee, aside from his emphatic yet subtle direction, has also come up with a first-class script which not only leaves room for ample characterisation (the film is strong on reaction shots and nuance) but urges the narrative onwards, often through smart, lively conversation. As you'd expect, perceptiveness abounds, and rich characters such as these are grabbed with glee by an excellent cast, with Diggs, Chestnut and Nia Long in particular delivering lots of depth in tandem with Lee's probing style.
Read a review of the DVD.