#ThrowbackMovieReview: Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It”


There is always that one movie you just have to see in your lifetime. Released in 1986, Documented in classic Spike Lee fashion Nola Darling takes us into her world–that of a sexually liberated woman–and there aren’t many things as or more revolutionary than a [Black] woman stepping out of the confines of societal expectations of sexuality.

I always look forward to Spike Lee joints, as they never cease to introduce me to fresh ways to view and interpret film, She’s Gotta Have It was no exception, delving smoothly into the realm of human sexuality, chauffeuring the viewer around the life of a woman unrestricted, dispelling the myths surrounding and anthologizing her and her prowess that reduce her to “ill” or “fatherless”.

Interestingly enough, the men in Nola’s life were not only connected to her carnally, but viscerally, as they engaged in the (figurative) battle for supremacy to secure her, as juxtaposed to a current day situation where men in ‘love polygon’-esque situations bare what seems to be no malice towards one another, but a sort of bond constructed from their commonality in, “sharing” a woman–which in itself is objectifying.


Even though Nola was known as a “freak,” the men in her life did not itemize her, rather, [inadvertently] respected her humanity to some degree–that is, until egos began to bruise as a result of the hurt felt when unable to win the supremacy battle.We are taken through quite a few demos of sexuality, i.e. lesbianism, addressed lightly with gentle prose, and another ego war–this time, a man and woman in competition. And a film of this nature would not be complete without highlighting certain ideologies, demonstrated by the rhetoric, “all men want a freak–just don’t want ‘em for a wife.” It took a few minutes before I began to appreciate the artistic direction in utilizing different types of cinematographic methods.

When contrasted against the few minutes shot in color, I had already grown to love the black-and-white that seemed to meld the film’s content together, creating a quaint and coherent piece, idiosyncratic of Spike Lee’s psyche. Very solid work.

-Ivy Ogbonna


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