'Honeydripper' poised to be a classic

“The cotton wisps gracefully pirouette about their stems as the gentle breeze meanders across the field. The sun hangs high in the afternoon blue, but the tender wafts provide a calm and a cool to the men and women set to picking that cotton. It’s a tranquility broken only by the occasional twang of a guitar or the drone of a harmonica.”

The cotton wisps gracefully pirouette about their stems as the gentle breeze meanders across the field.

The sun hangs high in the afternoon blue, but the tender wafts provide a calm and a cool to the men and women set to picking that cotton.

It’s a tranquility broken only by the occasional twang of a guitar or the drone of a harmonica.

This is the setting for John Sayles’s Honeydripper.

Much like the charming title of this quaint independent film, Honeydripper is a sweet little concoction that moves at a molasses pace, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As he’s demonstrated in past films like his debut Return of the Secaucus Seven and Lone Star, Sayles has a knack for character development.

The dialogue is impeccable and the characters show such a depth that you can’t blame him for moseying through the narrative.

The film opens on the rural southern town of Harmony, home to your traditional pre-integration down-home setup.

The black population is still struggling for respect and a decent wage, and the white sheriff refuses to give a black person a break, arresting each and every one that is a possible vagrant or criminal.

A few families have come into their own, including Tyrone Pinetop Purvis, his wife Delilah and daughter China Doll.

Pinetop is the proprietor of the Honeydripper, a small town bar on the brink of new management.

The money hasn’t been rollin’ in for a while.

The neighboring bar, The Ace of Spades, is just yards away and has brought in the box (jukebox) that has all the youth rocking and rolling away from the Honeydripper.

Pinetop (Danny Glover) is desperate for a last ditch effort to get his business back in the black.

His only hope is Guitar Sam, a music sensation from Nashville who’s been burning’ up the charts with his electric guitar. Pinetop has to find a way to get Guitar Sam into town and his bar back on the map.

But the film is so much more than that.

Sayles laces in several intricate subplots that thicken and sweeten this tale to near perfection.

Delilah has been attending the local church service and finds herself in a struggle between God and her husband’s business – a life of salvation and a world of sin.

China Doll (America’s Next Top Model’s YaYa DaCosta), ill with the rheumatic fever when a child, finds a new strength to her feeble heart with the arrival of Sonny, a traveling musician bent on making it big on the radio.

Charles S. Dutton makes an amiable turn as Pinetop’s business partner and comrade Maceo.

Together, the two of them spread the word of Guitar Sam’s performance and the town lights up in anticipation.

But perhaps the sweetest performance is by newcomer Gary Clark Jr. as Sonny. With a humble charisma and soulful eyes that are simply magnetic, Clark brings curious vivacity to this old-fashioned modest town and sparks a new revolution of music.

While the film may seem to plod along for some, others will find a delightful relaxation to be found in its stride.

It threads the yarn of plots and subplots into an enchanting and endearing tale of redemption and deliverance.

Honeydripper, while it may appeal to the African American community because of its cast and musical stylings, offers delight for and person.

Sweeten up your dreary March days with Honeydripper, now playing in limited release.