(director: Director X; screenwriter: Floyd Kane; cinematographer: Samy Inayeh; editor: Dey Singh; music: Joseph Murray/Lodewijk Vos; cast: Stephan James (Mattie Slaughter), Sarah Jeffery (Jayme Crawley), Cara Ricketts (Lori Downey), Jackie Torrence(Shelley Doucette), Hugh Tompson (Len Jacobsen), Denis Theriault (Todd), Steven Love (John), Shamier Anderson (Carter Slaughter), Lanette Ware (Velma Slaughter), Jim Codrington (Fraser Crawley); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Floyd Kane/Michael Donovan/Mark Gosine; Circle Blue Films/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 2015-Canada)

All the drama focuses on the racism in the community.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

For his debut feature, music-video visionary, Director X (née Julien Christian Lutz), the one responsible for Drakes’s “Hotline Bling” and Rihanna’s Work, takes on the problem of racial tensions at a Novia Scotia high school in 1989 over its black hockey star Mattie Slaughter (Stephan James). The story is written by Floyd Kane. It was inspired by the 1989 Cole Harbour District High School race riots. Mattie is a star forward hockey player at the school, with professional aspirations. His school nemesis is the rich white boy Todd (Denis Theriault), who keeps making racial remarks directed at Mattie. Meanwhile Mattie flirts with a mixed breed coed, Jayme (Sarah Jeffery), who happens to be dating Todd’s best friend (Steven Love).All the drama focuses on the racism in the community, as tension builds around it. It showcases some black actors who might not have ever gotten a shot at the movies. But the acting is weak, the story is at times plodding and the screenplay piles on too much unnecessary baggage to make it entertaining. Though it reflects real-life incidents in the community, the Old School film fails to make a dramatic impact. It instead clues us in that racism is alive and well in Nova Scotia. When the film works well it reminds us of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, but too often itreminds of how clunky it is and so much like one of those routine TV issue of the week movies.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”