Here’s the trailer for American Violet, a quietly impressive film that screened at SXSW last month. Based on a true story, it’s about an African-American single mother in Texas who, as was routine at the time, got scooped up in a housing project drug raid based on flimsy or fabricated warrant-supporting affidavits. District Attorneys would then hold these arrestees in jail until they agreed to a plea bargain — whether they were guilty or not — thus quickly increasing their conviction rates and bringing in more federal money. Newcomer Nicole Beharie plays the single mother, and she’s excellent. Meanwhile. Tim Blake Nelson plays an ACLU attorney who teams up with local counsel, played by the always magnificent Will Patton, to go after the racist D.A., the impressively loathsome Michael O’ Keefe.
There’s nothing particularly momentous about American Violet but it is a swell little legal drama that benefits from strong performances and a nice lift-me-up-light feel good ending. And there was nothing more satisfying than watching American Violet in Texas only to hear the crowd erupt into hisses when George Bush, via archival footage, made a brief appearance. God Bless (parts of) Texas.