Lackawanna Blues (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

Lackawanna Blues2005

Lackawanna Blues (2005)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Lackawanna Blues Photos

Movie Info

A young boy grows up among a makeshift family of oddballs and dreamers in this adaptation of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's acclaimed one-man show. Ruben Junior (Marcus Carl Franklin) is a young boy who was born in the late '40s into a family that started crumbling not long after he was born. Ruben Junior's parents were from Lackawanna, a city in Upstate New York, and were living in a rooming house run by Nanny Crosby (S. Epatha Merkerson), whose place was a hub for the local African-American community. When Ruben Junior's parents split up, he and his mother return to Lackawanna and Nanny's rooming house; with mother overworked physically and in sad shape emotionally, Nanny takes Ruben Junior under her wing, and offers him the sort of nurturing she gives all her boarders. Nanny's house is full of people struggling for a fresh start in life, ranging from former convicts to recovering drug addicts, and she opens both her doors and her heart to them as they strive to make themselves better people. Ruben Junior finds a loving home amidst the colorful eccentrics in Nanny's circle of friends, but as America changes over the course of the 1950s and '60s, so does the neighborhood where Nanny and her tenants live -- and not for the better. Produced for the premium cable network HBO, Lackawanna Blues features a stellar supporting cast, including Delroy Lindo, Louis Gossett Jr., Rosie Perez, Jimmy Smits, Jeffrey Wright, Mos Def, and Ernie Hudson.


S. Epatha Merkerson
as Rachel `Nanny' Crosby
Hill Harper
as Ruben Santiago Jr. (as a man)
Marcus Carl Franklin
as Ruben Santiago Jr. (as a boy)
Jimmy Smits
as Ruben Santiago Sr.
Louis Gossett Jr.
as Old Lem Taylor
Macy Gray
as Pauline
Ernie Hudson
as Dick Barrymore
Yasiin Bey
as Bandleader
Robert A. Bradley
as Otis McClanahan
Delroy Lindo
as Mr. Luscious
Ruben Santiago-Hudson
as Freddie Cobbs
Jeffrey Wright
as Small Paul
Liev Schreiber
as Ulysses Fold
Kathleen Chalfant
as Mrs. Carmichael
Patricia Wettig
as Laura's mother
View All

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Critic Reviews for Lackawanna Blues

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (2)

Even in deep-pore close-ups, it's not stagey in the slightest; it's been crosscut to a Godfather-ly fare-thee-well, and there are some Orson Welles palm prints all over a snow-globe shot.

January 22, 2018 | Full Review…

It's a wonderful lead performance.

January 31, 2005

Everyone's efforts were sadly wasted.

August 26, 2005 | Rating: 1.5/5

Bursting at the seams with talented performers, no one misses a beat, conjuring up an atmosphere so vivid, you can taste it.

February 19, 2005 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

An invigorating movie full of sexual energy.

February 11, 2005 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Lackawanna Blues


This movie has a lot of heart and makes me wish I had a "Nanny"!

Sarah Prisbylla
Sarah Prisbylla

Super Reviewer


I LOVED this movie!! S. Epatha Merkerson was a great matriarch in this film, loved Macy Gray, loved everyone in this film!!

Remi Logan
Remi Logan

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]"Lackawanna Blues" is based on the autobiographical play by Ruben Santiago-Hudson about his experiences growing up an unorthodox childhood in a rooming house owned and ran by Rachel "Nanny" Crosby(S. Epatha Merkerson) in the fifties and sixties in a largely minority neighborhood in Lackawanna, New York. After Ruben's parents are unable to care for him, Nanny takes him in as she has so many other people.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"Lackawanna Blues" is an entertaining movie with a great cast including Delroy Lindo, Rosie Perez, Terrence Howard, Jimmy Smits, Louis Gossett, Jr and Jeffrey Wright. The film has a potent sense of time and place but it does seem a bit too nostalgiac towards segregation-era America.(The film points out that Nanny helped out the way the government would have if it worked properly.) [/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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