Writer/director Matt Ruskin’s “Crown Heights” is based on the true story of a man being wrongfully convicted of murder and forced to spend more than two decades behind bars, while his best friend never gave up seeking justice.
The film begins in the spring of 1980. After a teenager is shot and killed on the streets of Brooklyn, a witness falsely identified 18-year-old Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) as the shooter. Colin, who had recently immigrated to Crown Heights from Trinidad was found guilty and sentenced to prison. Because this was during the height of the New York City crime wave, detectives wanted to close as many cases as possible, even if the evidence didn’t stack up.
While Colin tries to adjust to life in prison, his best friend, Carl ‘KC’ King (Nnamdi Asomugha) makes It his mission to seek out justice. As the years go by and the justice system continues to fail Colin, his friend never gave up, putting his wife and children second.
“Crown Heights” is a powerful film while at the same time feeling quite low-key. Stanfield gives such a tremendous performance that I hope he isn’t looked over comes awards season. This is Ruskin’s sophomore feature film and despite some pacing issues, he has delivered one of the best films of the year.
By: Marc Ferman