Anne B. Real | Chicago Reader

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Writer-director Lisa France makes an auspicious debut with this 2002 feature about a withdrawn high school poet (rapper Janice Richardson, aka JNYCE) who's inspired by Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. Too shy to perform, she learns to her anger and dismay that her drug-dealing brother has been selling her rhymes to an untalented rap star (who, after running out of material at his first recording session, protests, “You wouldn't ask Bob Dylan to freestyle!”). France creates some strong imagery and elicits compelling performances from her cast, and though redundant flashbacks betray a lack of trust in the narrative, her mature touch rescues this mean-streets saga from the usual uplift cliches. PG-13, 91 min.

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