The subjects of racial prejudice in the South of the United States and overcoming of it through love has been the subject of many a film, so when I see another one I wonder what makes this different. Why should this film have been made? Is there anything different it brings to the subject? The film examines parent/child relationships, interracial relationships and race identity all within the boundaries of one family. What it brings that s different is the approach at the subject through the lens of one family. How race can even be an issue in an African-American family.
The passing of Carmel Boxer (Gabrielle Union – The Honeymooners, Bad Boys II), the matriarch of the family, brings a family that is stretched out all over the world together for her funeral. As they reminisce about her life it causes them to go over their own relationships and they bring up all the painful parts of the past in the process. There is an uneasiness amongst them all because there are many unresolved issues floating under the surface.
Carmel had arranged her funeral this way on purpose in order that her family be forced to confront all these issues. As each of the family members arrives to the funeral family secrets are revealed and not healed yet scars are ripped open.
Director Jordan Walker-Pearlman (The Visit) has constructed a film which might bring about a dialogue of this hot button issue. African-Americans are depicted as a diverse race in the film, which might not be everyone's cup of soup, but it is reality. He also shows the universality of some of the issues amongst families. Anyone who is a member of a family, no matter the race or colour, can identify with some of the issues going on. The cast and director do a good job bringing to the screen a fleshing out three-dimensional characters with all their human flaws. A weakness of the film is how it leaves you wanting to know more about the Carmel and Helms Boxer (Billy Dee Williams – Batman, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi) characters. You want to know more about their lives and how they came to be the people they are/were. I guess this could also be seen as a strength of the film as you are quite invested in the characters. "Constellation" has that kind of 'old fashioned' story-telling feel about it. I also applaud the director for depicting a middle class African-American family and not making your usual 'black' film which involves pimps, drug dealers, prostitutes, gang members, violence or a silly comedy. It most certainly is an interesting family film about race and inter family relations.