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The drama '1982' plays it way too cool

The drama '1982' plays it way too cool
Hill Harper and Troi Zee in "1982." (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

In the drama "1982," recovering addict Shenae (Sharon Leal) relapses upon the release from prison of her drug-dealing old flame Alonzo (Wayne Brady), abandoning her husband, Tim (Hill Harper), and young daughter, Maya (Troi Zee), in the process.

Assuming infidelity, a concerned Tim packs Shenae's things and takes them to the friend with whom she's supposedly staying. By the time he realizes he must look elsewhere, a high, fiendish and volatile Shenae is already back home shaking every last penny out of the piggy bank for a fix.

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Set in 1980s northwest Philadelphia, this semiautobiographical first feature from Tommy Oliver resists the hysteria typical of such melodrama. It also incorporates music judiciously so it's never manipulative.

The antithesis of Tyler Perry, writer-director Oliver has gone to another extreme. The film feels coolly detached because the story and characters are underdeveloped. Oliver also repeatedly tunes out diegetic sound during climactic scenes, rendering them emotionally opaque. Had he presented the film through the perspective of Maya or Shenae, it might have resonated. Instead it's little more than an artsy but hollow Lifetime cable movie.

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'1982'

MPAA rating: R, for language, some violence and a sexual situation

Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills

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