Blackflix Movie News Presents: Notorious
Friday, January 30, 2009

By Janet Singleton

Notorious is a film about dichotomies.  Had another musical biopic not already snagged the title, this movie about Notorious B.I.G. could have been called Walk the Line. In an early scene little Christopher Wallace, destined to become the famous rapper, is a grade schooler, (Christopher Jordan Wallace, Biggie’s real-life son) who walks down a Brooklyn sidewalk with his mother at his side sweetly praising him for his good grade on a class assignment.  Down the street on a bike rides a standard neighborhood hoodlum, and when he spies the ten-year-old, he makes a nasty aggressive gesture.  So it is established immediately: two worlds, the one of the streets and the straights.  The former is a rough universe of rage, random yet predictable, incomprehensible yet justifiable. 

On the other side of the line, the straights include his mother Voletta Wallace (Angela Basset), a teacher who sent him to Catholic elementary school and raised him to follow the straight and narrow; the cops who arrest him for not following the straight and narrow; and the society that increasingly believes there is no wrong way to make money.

By adolescence the rotund, drug-dealing Biggie Smalls (Jamal Woolard), as he is called then, has cast his allegiance mostly to the streets.  Sure, they are brutal, but he thinks he has mastered them.  As anyone who knows what happened in March, 1997 can attest to, how tragically wrong he turned out to be.


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