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Mira Nair's first Hollywood feature (1992) is one of the more interesting films about American racism because there are no white characters of note: set in Greenwood, Mississippi, it follows the growing romance between a young black man with a carpet-cleaning business (Denzel Washington) and a young woman of Indian descent (Sarita Choudhury) whose family was expelled from Uganda in the 70s by Idi Amin and now manages a cheap motel. The lovers' relationship provokes both communities, and as the Romeo and Juliet story plays out, Nair shows how deeply notions of black and white are rooted in caste, not color. The last act is rushed and soapy, but this is still a singular observation of American life. R, 118 min.

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