Losing Ground

Recommended

1982 | 86 minutes | Rated NR

Kathleen Collins, a black American director who passed away in 1988, made in 1982 a profound film/narrative/essay on the nature of relationships and aesthetics. At the center of the film is a brilliant philosophy professor (Seret Scott), whose husband (Bill Gunn) is a struggling (if not second-rate) painter. The two are middle-class and cosmopolitan. The professor’s mother is a retired actress. The professor also has a growing thing for an actor/theologian (Duane Jones) she met in a library while researching for a paper on aesthetic experiences. Though intellectual, the film does find moments for the stir of sexual desires and the pleasures of salsa dancing. It’s by no means an exaggeration to say that Losing Ground is one of the most important and original American films of the second half of the 20th century. You really must watch it, for it is nothing but criminal that a work of this kind of genius is practically unknown. In an age (the Obama age) when, with good reason, there is so much talk about race, it nevertheless comes as a relief to see a film by a black director that’s devoted to the higher question of the existential condition of humans.

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Film Credits
Director
Kathleen Collins
Cast
Bill Gunn, Seret Scott, Maritza Rivera, Billie Allen, Duane Jones, Gary Bolling