The Harder They Come

Director: Perry Henzell
Year Released: 1973
Rating: 3.0

Warrants the term "cult movie" - in a good way - in that it takes a tiny budget, non-actors, realistic locations and social problems and tries to weave them into a full-length feature. The star, played by Jimmy Cliff, is a farmer who comes to Kingston, Jamaica looking to get famous with his songwriting and vocal talents. He journeys from one place to another - from slums to a church - and encounters drug-dealers, soul-sisters, shady record producers and the poverty-stricken homeless. The cast of the film is a bunch of locals - a Pasoliniesque maneuver - but the acting holds up, as director Perry Henzell is adroit at cutting from image to image to avoid long, protracted dramatic sequences. The music is good, but a little overplayed: once we've heard the title song several times we don't really want to hear it again. My major problem with it was with its plot: I was confused most of the time as to who was who (the Jamaican accents are only occasionally subtitled) and the transitions from scene to scene are shaky - one minute Cliff is in one place, next he's in another, then another, then he's in some house, and I'm never quite sure exactly who all these other people are and how he moved from location to location. Still, it's gritty and feels real, and that's all that matters.