"Shadowboxer" is a sad, warped tale that pairs a young man and his stepmother as lovers, whose lives are forever entwined after she murders his father. Sadder and more warped still is the fact that Cuba Gooding Jr. and accomplished Shakespearean actress Helen Mirren agreed to appear in this mess.
Directed by "Monster's Ball" producer Lee Daniels, "Shadowboxer" is billed as film noir, but because it lacks any subtlety and accentuates gratuitous violence that is more in-your-face than it is implied, the movie is about as noir-ish as "Rocky."
The tie that binds Mikey (Gooding) and Rose (Mirren), besides their sordid past, is their sordid present. They make a terrific team
But by that point the story is stretched to such a point of absurdity that eventually Mikey finds redemption. If only the audience were so lucky.
MPAA rating: R for strong graphic violence and sexuality, nudity, language and some drug use
A Teton Films release. Director Lee Daniels. Screenplay by William Lipz. Producers Daniels, Lisa Cortes, David Robinson, Brook Lenfest, Damon Dash. Director of photography M. David Mullen. Editors William Chang Suk Ping, Brian A. Kates. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.
In selected theaters.