After the murder of a child by a stray bullet, a group of women led by Lysistrata organize against the on-going violence in Chicago’s Southside creating a movement that challenges the nature of race, sex and violence in America and around the world.
It may not take much to make Spike Lee angry, but there’s no denying he gives us his reasons and then some in “Chi-Raq,” a sprawling, blistering state-of-the-union address that presents Chicago’s South Side as a cesspool of black-on-black violence, gang warfare, gun worship and macho misogyny, ruled by unbreakable cycles of poverty and oppression. All that social outrage clearly demanded similarly outsized treatment, and Lee and co-writer Kevin Willmott (“CSA: The Confederate States of America”) have found a remarkably accommodating vessel in Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata,” whose tale of an ancient Greek heroine leading an anti-war sex strike has been updated here as an alternately soulful and scalding, playful and deadly serious 21st-century oratorio. Blunt, didactic and stronger on conceptual audacity than dramatic coherence, this is still the most vital, lived-in work in some time from a filmmaker who has never shied away from speaking his mind or irritating his ideological foes, as he seems destined to do again with this attention-grabbing first feature to be released by Amazon Studios.
(Via Variety, by Justin Chang)