It’s hard to translate the intimacy and immediacy of a theater experience to the silver screen. But if any play of modern times was suited for a non-live experience, it’s this smart, sophisticated morality ply from Anna Deavere Smith.
Based on hundreds of interviews conducted with individuals who have been subject of or witness to acts of racial violence and hostility, Smith paints a moving portrait of a country crawling on its knees. Smith literally plays each real person, adopting their vocal and physical nuances to amplify their tale. But never does the method get overused or the message overwrought.
Her portrait is condemning and eye-opening, a woman with a clear understating of the country she is criticizing and the art she wants to make. In a way, “Note From The Field” is emblematic of Smith’s own acting career, known for occasional bit roles in popular TV series without a long-lasting character of her own. But if there’s one thing this movie proves, is that Smith might be in her best form when telling someone else’s story.