28 Days of Black Movies: I can’t decide just how ridiculous this ask is in the movie ‘Cain and Abel.’ Help.

OPINION: This urban lit-style book turned movie features a question that has me puzzled in terms of its audacity.

If I had to wager a guess, I’d guess only a scant few people outside of the actors’ family members have seen Cain and Abel. The movie, which dropped in December 2021, purportedly had a $35,000 budget (you see what $35,000 can do for you in 2021 versus 1994; this movie’s production quality is 1,000 times better than that of Hav Plenty) and is told in a very back-and-forth, flashback narrative, telling multiple stories at the same time. It’s hard to follow, and despite only being an hour and 40 minutes, the first hour is literally all exposition to set up the remaining 40 minutes, and I’d say 75 percent of it is unnecessary. 

In fact, I only finished this movie because I was trying to understand what biblical Cain and Abel had to do with the story. There are twin brothers in the story, but they’re kids for most of the movie, and one is named Michael. At some point in life, Michael officially changes his name to Cain (no good reason is ever given for this). By that point, the brothers are estranged; I think it’s been 10 years since they’ve last seen one another, which is also curious because the last scene we see of them before they are grown, they’re running away together from the house of a man who was abusing Cain. 

But let me set this up so you can understand what’s happening so I can get to my question, which I need some help answering. Cain and Abel is, for the most part, the story of Lauren (Jackie P. Jourdan), a mother of two (Michael/Cain and Abel) who is forced to resort to a life of crime and struggle when her husband, Tyler (Antoine Wells), is murdered by her criminally minded cousin after he finds out (from Lauren) that Tyler has not only saved $100,000 to buy her a boat but put all that money up in their house somewhere. Once the cousin finds out, he puts a plan in motion to rob them of their money. It should be pointed out that Tyler hates the cousin in general because he’s a criminal, and Lauren somehow is the only person in the family who likes him. And then he kills her husband in an attempt to rob him. 

I won’t spoil the rest of the movie for you, and if I’m being honest, it’s a hard movie to watch the entire way through; the narrative style is hard to follow and, at times, is annoying, so if you aren’t the type to finish a movie JUST because you started (like me) then this ain’t the movie for you. Trust me. And the final payoff that should make the whole movie worth watching is kind of telegraphed by both the title of the movie AND the lead-up to the final scenes. But the way my life is set up, when I find a movie on Amazon Prime and start said movie, I finish it. On occasion, it is actual factual wasted time. 

“Cain and Abel” (Screenshot/YouTube)

Anywho, on to my important and confusing question. 

As I said, Lauren’s husband is murdered by her cousin. For the record, she wasn’t there and didn’t see it. And in fact, her cousin didn’t actually pull the trigger, but he set up the robbery and brought along a dude who did, in fact, pull the trigger, though it’s not entirely clear why. They didn’t have the money, and killing Tyler would ensure they DIDN’T get the money. It really doesn’t make much sense even as I’m writing this out. But then again, I watched a movie called Cain and Abel on Amazon Prime at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday, so that’s on me. 

So, Tyler’s dead and Lauren’s cousin’s mother, Aunt Rhonda (Aria Moody), comes through to pay her condolences to Lauren. Remember, Aunt Rhonda’s son helped kill Lauren’s husband. Anywho, she comes through to pay her condolences. I guess they all got to talking about the why of it all or something, or maybe the cousin sang in court as to the motivation? I don’t know. But somehow, Lauren was being called to testify against her cousin in court, perhaps to establish a motive? Again, she didn’t see anything. Now that I think about it, I have no idea how the police even found out. The criminals didn’t steal the money. I suppose they were the last ones to be seen with Tyler when he left work, but, I mean, Lauren can’t testify to that either. Now, I’m getting more confused by this movie.

Well, Aunt Rhonda asks Lauren NOT to testify against her cousin. Sure, the cousin helped murder her husband, but he’s all Aunt Rhonda has, and he’s family. Apparently,  you don’t testify against family, even family that murdered your husband. Aunt Rhonda even goes so far as to blame Lauren for the murder, saying that Lauren knows her cousin is a criminal and telling him about that money was a set up for Tyler’s death. Aunt Rhonda is a terrible human; that needs to be pointed out here. Her entire point is that the cousin didn’t pull the trigger, and he’s her son, and he’s Lauren’s family; therefore, despite what he did, Lauren shouldn’t testify against him. And she meant it. Like, she was HOT when Lauren said she was going to testify. Like vengeful hot about it. In an already ridiculous movie—if you watch it, you’ll understand—but that just seems like an OVER the top ridiculous ask, but I also wonder if perhaps this is reasonable, just not to me. So I humbly ask:

How ridiculous is it to ask your niece not to testify against your son who just killed her husband, purely because you’re family? 

Is that something you can reasonably do? Ya know, ask for that kind of mercy?? I’ve been trying to discern if my Blackness was out of whack here because I wanted her to say, immediately, I am not only going to testify, but I’m going to make sure he dies in jail. 

Help a brotha out. Not the cousin; me. 

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).

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