Home News TV Listings Movies Music Video Photos Radio Book Club Life & Style

Movie Review

Black Nativity

Reviewer Rating
User Rating

Director: Kasi Lemmons

Starring: Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Tyrese Gibson, Jacob Latimore, Mary J. Blige, Nas

Duration: 93 minutes

Certificate PG

1 of 4 17-year-old R&B singer Jacob Latimore stars as Langston
17-year-old R&B singer Jacob Latimore stars as Langston
2 of 4 Jennifer Hudson sublime vocals shine throughout the movie
Jennifer Hudson sublime vocals shine throughout the movie
3 of 4 Forrest Whitaker can hold his own when it comes to singing
Forrest Whitaker can hold his own when it comes to singing
4 of 4 Black Nativity will entertain the family on an afternoon over Christmas
Black Nativity will entertain the family on an afternoon over Christmas

It's not going to bowl you over with its magical storyline, nor is it going to have you dancing in the cinema aisles, but what Black Nativity has going for it is that it will get you out of the house with the family for a nice afternoon over the festive period. Based loosely on a play by Langston Hughes, Black Nativity is a Christmas story about forgiveness and reconciliation, though it takes a while to get there. 

It's not going to bowl you over with its magical storyline, nor is it going to have you dancing in cinema aisles, but what Black Nativity has going for it is that it will get you out the house with the family for a nice afternoon over the festive period. Based loosely on a play by Langston Hughes, Black Nativity is a Christmas story about forgiveness and reconciliation, though it takes a while to get there. 

17-year-old R&B singer Jacob Latimore stars as Langston, a moody teenager who is sent to spend Christmas in New York with his grandparents – who he has never met. In Baltimore, he leaves behind his struggling mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson) who is working every hour possible to save their house. 

Naima and her parents, the booming Rev. Cornell Cobbs (Forrest Whitaker) and homely Aretha (Angela Bassett) don't get on, and Langston spends his time with them in Harlem trying to figure out why they fell out. He also wants to know who his father is and why he left him when he was so young. 

Langston is not happy being separated from his mother, and can't understand why she won't come and be with them in New York – it clearly looks like his grandparents have more than enough money to look after them. Desperate to give his mother a good life, Langston is even willing to steal so that he can save their house from being repossessed. 

Everything leads to Christmas Eve and the Reverend's uplifting performance of Black Nativity at the church. Cue gospel music, shining lights, Mary J. Blige as an angel and plot revelations in abundance (although I'm sure they won't come as a big surprise).  
The cast's somewhat understated performances really save this movie from being too stagy and Jennifer Hudson's vocals knock it out of the park every time she starts to sing. And if you're wondering if Forrest Whitaker sings – the answer is yes and very well at that. 

Suzanne Byrne

add your own comment
User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use