Down In The Delta

Director: Maya Angelou

In this heartfelt, huggable little gem of a movie, a Chicago widow packs up her daughter and two grandchildren and heads to her late husband’s ancestral home in Mississippi in order to keep them from slipping through the dangerous cracks of their urban surroundings. Once in the rural “delta,” the family predictably becomes closer and discovers more about their lives and history than they ever would have imagined yet this never feels like a typical coming-of-age film. Never simplistic-- the film is emotional, tough and every scene feels justified as storytelling and characterization are favored over simple camera trickery. However, Angelou does have a few dazzling tricks up her sleeve near the end of the piece when she employs an inventive usage of film technique to tell a story related earlier in the film, providing the viewer with a chance to recall the story as well, thereby making the meaning even more important. This cinematic method called to mind an earlier Miramax venture Smoke that may have been an influence on poet turned director, Maya Angelou.