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Double Bill: Bill Gunn
8.3
/10
88 Ratings

Personal Problems

Directed by Bill Gunn
United States, 1980
Drama
  • English
  • English
Double Bill: Bill Gunn

Synopsis

Johnnie Mae Brown is a New York City nurse whose husband is cheating on her. Her personal dramas play out, as her extended family takes her domestic and emotional labor for granted.

Our take

This self-proclaimed “experimental soap opera” is an antithesis to television, brilliantly formed by Bill Gunn and Ishmael Reed. Starring the outstanding Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, the film politicizes daily Black life not through oversimplified themes, but the moving power of private struggle.

Personal Problems Directed by Bill Gunn Watch now
Personal Problems is a piece of work that seeks not to be the Black version of anything but a world in and of itself, which only someone named Johnnie Mae Brown could occupy and share with us.
January 19, 2019
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With its elliptical leaps between scenes and long, unbroken stretches of often-hectic overlapping dialogue that serve no function in advancing exposition, Personal Problems would likely be deemed bad television by most any network executive with an eye for the bottom line—either in 1980 or today—and it is also a startling, totally idiosyncratic work of art.
March 30, 2018
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It becomes apparent that Gunn’s motion picture is inventing its language as it goes along—a series of building blocks of different shapes, tones, and materials creating a homemade Cubist mosaic.
March 03, 2018
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