Lakeview Terrace

lakeview-terraceAlee’s Analysis: The trials and triumphs of an interracial couple are displayed in a way that turns stereotypes on their head.

Lakeview Terrace is a 2008 movie about a couple who is harassed by their neighbor for being interracially married. Samuel L. Jackson stars as Abel Turner, a widowed Los Angeles Police Department officer who lives in suburban LA and torments his new next door neighbors, Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington). The neighbors become entangled in a long and bitter dispute over both physical and psychological boundaries.

Lakeview Terrace is based on a true story.

The Good

Abel Turner and Chris Mattson are believable in their interactions; Samuel L. fit the character of Abel Turner perfectly. Chris Mattson is amazingly attractive and Lisa Mattson is beautiful. It is nice to see an onscreen couple involving a white man and a black woman who does not feed into stereotypes or devolve into negativity. Chris is a somewhat uptight yet likeable character.

Favorite scene: In a late night bar scene, Abel tells Chris how he became a widower and why he is so against Chris and Lisa’s marriage. No spoilers — watch the movie to find out the details.

The Bad

Outside of the main characters, the acting in Lakeview Terrace is subpar, at best. Lisa Mattson is a one-dimensional character and doesn’t add much to the movie outside of her role as wife to Chris. Chris’ attempts to put off having children make him seem selfish.

The movie is centered around Chris Mattson and the problems he faces as one half of a black woman/white man couple. Focusing only on Chris’ issues presents an inaccurate portrayal of the difficulties faced by these couples: the woman in these pairings also faces opposition, often more than the man does.

Lakeview Terrace is a good film, but not great: many scenes stop short where they could have gone more in-depth. What makes the movie worthwhile is the excellent acting of the main characters and the chance to glimpse into a rarely explored social issue.

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22 thoughts on “Lakeview Terrace

  1. I want to discuss this movie, so I’m leaving a comment just because. 🙂

    They made SMJ’s character consistent with his dislike of all IR relationships involving Black people, but that didn’t match up well with the revelation about his wife. And I would’ve liked more of Lisa’s perspective, since I love KW.

    Is it wrong to say that I got ideas from the pool scene? 😉

  2. Jasmin,

    How did the revelation not match up with his dislike of all interracial relationships involving blacks?

    I would have liked more of Lisa’s perspective too.

    What kind of ideas did you get from the pool scene? Lol.

  3. Hey girl!

    I saw this movie a few month ago, I liked it even if it wasn’t a top tier movie. I really don’t buy the reason though why he dislikes interracial couples, I think the character had issues way before that.

    And I agree with you, we need more movies focusing on the woman’s perspective, that’s why I liked Something New even if the movie wasn’t THAT good.

    Anyway, I want more movies like this out there. I love seeing couples like me and my husband on the screen 🙂

  4. Hi Nkosazana, welcome. 🙂

    “I really don’t buy the reason though why he dislikes interracial couples, I think the character had issues way before that.”

    I got that vibe too. I also wonder how he would have reacted had it been a black husband and white wife who moved next door.

    I still haven’t seen Something New, but I hope to soon. I’ve heard it conflicting reviews about it — some think it’s not that great and is unrealistic, while some think it’s wonderful and very true to life. I’m more worried about how much Sanaa Lathan’s character is said to make an issue of race. It can irritate me if, in a movie about interracial couples, the characters are always making race seem like the main reason why the relationship is difficult or doomed to fail.

  5. I also wonder how he would have reacted had it been a black husband and white wife who moved next door.

    That’s why I found his rational for disliking IR strange. At the beginning of the movie he makes an off-the-cuff remark about not liking Kobe, but I missed it. Later someone told me it’s because Kobe’s wife is White (Latina?), so maybe he just associates all IR relationships with infidelity? Now I’m just confused… 🙂

    I can’t talk about the pool scene ideas without getting in troublee. 😉

  6. Jasmin,

    “At the beginning of the movie he makes an off-the-cuff remark about not liking Kobe, but I missed it.”

    He did? I definitely didn’t catch that remark, and I’ve watched the movie more than once.

  7. It’s not on the Wikipedia page, but from what I remember the son is wearing a Kobe jersey or something and SMJ makes a comment about rooting for another player. I’ve only seen it once, but my sister (I think) brought it up when we left the theater.

  8. Jasmin, interersting. I’ll try to catch it next time I watch the movie.

    Also, I admit I have more respect for blacks who are against all interracial relationships involving black people (despite their being woefully misguided and narrow-minded) than those who are only against black women in interracial relationships. Too many times it seems like anti-interracial people are not really against interracial relationships as a whole, just those that don’t benefit their race/gender combination.

  9. I admit I have more respect for blacks who are against all interracial relationships involving black people (despite their being woefully misguided and narrow-minded) than those who are only against black women in interracial relationships.

    I agree, to an extent, since it’s a 2-sided coin. SMJ’s fellow cop (Asian) was interracially married and he didn’t care. I think it was the writer’s way of making him (slightly) less trite, but the “all Black people feel some sort of obligation to one another, even if they’re strangers” trope is getting old. I think I would’ve preferred the more-extreme anti-all IR position, just to be consistent.

  10. I watched this movie on dvd as I adore Kerry Washington and love Samuel Jackson as actors. I also watched Something New, but have to admit, when movies are made in America, I tend NOT to focus too much on the content, because, (sorry guys) y’all ALWAYS have issues and try to fog them onto the majority of said race/gender!!!!!. It’s sooooooo tiring!. If I want thought provoking, intellectual, complex movies, I’ll stick with the Europeans/others (eg Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Nigerian) .

    Like your blog, plus I was encouraged to respond as I saw Nkosazana’s comment.

  11. Hi foosrock,

    “y’all ALWAYS have issues and try to fog them onto the majority of said race/gender!”

    Lol. Well, America is probably more racially charged than other countries.

    I’ve never watched a Korean or Chinese movie.

    Glad you (and Nkosana) like the blog. 🙂

  12. I got a movie tip for you girl’s. And you liked non-American films foosrock.

    The movies title is Un dimanche à Kigali. I thought it better than Hotel Rwanda, but that’s my option. See if you can find it, I was lucky that it was shown at a local film club.

    It’s about a BW-WM IR couple in it, but it’s not for the weak hearted.

  13. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOODNESS! @ Nkosazana I saw the first part of the movie on dvd. Ordered the bloody thing through amazon and (don’t laugh!) it had a deep scratch after the scene where she was serving at the pool and one of the tourist slapped her bum. I so want to know what happened as I realised too late I could have sent back the dvd to amazon. The freaking thing costed me US$29. and that’s not including P&P!!!!!. Will try my dvd Laden finally when I’m off in 2wks.

  14. That’s so unlucky.

    Awh, i payed only about 45 sek to see it. Thats 6.5 us dollars. I love the Fatou N’diaye, she so beautiful..

    Anyway i hope you find a way to see it, you already have the movie, if you got a tech savvy friend maybe he/she can get it in some “unorthodox” way 🙂

  15. Nkosazana, hmmm, sounds good. I like Fatou N’Diaye. And an interracial black woman/white man movie that’s not set in the U.S. should be interesting.

  16. I just watched Death at a Funeral w/Zek, and the daughter from Lakeview Terrace plays the “hot” family friend Martin Lawrence’s character tries to hit on, complete with a completely inappropriate tight black dress at the funeral. I was positive I recognized her, but I couldn’t believe she grew up so much in the span of 4 years. Wikipedia says she’s 23, older than me!

  17. Jasmin,

    I fixed the comment for you. 🙂

    You mean Regine Nehy, aka Celia in the movie? Regine is gorgeous. She looks younger than 23!

    I haven’t seen Death at a Funeral yet — I have so many films to catch up on when I have more time. I probably wouldn’t have seen Lakeview Terrace the first time if my guy friend didn’t want to see it so bad when it debuted. It makes sense that Regine was in the film though, since Death at a Funeral and Lakeview Terrace were directed by the same guy — Neil Labute.

  18. Thanks! Yes, she’s so pretty, I would’ve thought she was younger in both movies. I think she was supposed to be around 14 in Lakeview Terrace and she said she was “turning 18 in a few months” in Death at a Funeral.

    Zek had already seen Death at a Funeral, and he really liked it, so we watched it on Netflix yesterday. It was actually funnier than I expected. (And James Marsden and Columbus Short were both looking extra-fine! :-P)

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