'I started thinking, man, either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood.'
John Singleton's directorial debut 'Boyz n the Hood' (1991) follows the coming-of-age story of Tre Styles (played as a young boy by Desi Arnez Hines II and as a young adult by Cuba Gooding Jr.) in the Crenshaw district of SoCal, as he veers between the authoritative but caring influence of his father 'Furious' (Lawrence Fishburne), and the neighbourhood gang life represented by best friend Doughboy (Ice Cube in his terrific feature film debut).
Nearly thirty years on this film is as relevant as ever and loses none of its power on rewatches. The maturity and flair with which 23-year old Singleton, who was nominated for two Oscars for his work as a writer and director here, made his mark on cinema is astonishing. He captures life in the ghetto with such a personal touch that feels particularly authentic, transporting us into the culture and camaraderie with such ease, while also depicting in such unflinching detail the endless cycle of gang violence exacerbated by police brutality and estranged households. In particular the arc of Doughboy's half-brother star running back Ricky (Morris Chestnut) trying to get out of this life, is unbearably cruel.
It is brilliantly acted, with Fisburne's dynamic portrayal of firm morality standing out in particular as one of the great cinematic father figures. And it is incredibly well written, where Furious' speech on the racial implications of gentrification and the above quote from Doughboy on how the ghetto is excluded from the concerns of the rest of the world, will linger on with you. It is a sobering, haunting but utterly necessary watch.