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Behind the benign title "Lakeview Terrace" lies the overly familiar story of a couple being harassed almost to death by their neighbor, until once again the worm turns at the climax of the film. In this case, it is an interracial couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson - played by Patrick Wilson (white) and his wife Kerry Washington (black) moving into a Los Angeles neighborhood and being menaced by Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), also black, obviously, who's an L.A.P.D. cop and a widower, who owns the house next door and who's raising his two children alone, apparently with the idea that interracial marriages should never be allowed.
If you can accept that premise, along with the fact that Jackson will stop at nothing to remove the Mattsons from living in their house, then you may find something of interest in this film. I found it excruciating to watch Jackson elevate the level of his harassment beyond anything even the worst Ku Klux Klan member might devise.
And of course the Mattsons have issues of their own: Chris is a closet smoker, usually at the wheel of their Prius; Lisa wants so badly to begin a family that she secretly stops taking her birth-control pills. And meanwhile the harassment escalates, from someone cutting the wires to their air conditioner to shining intruder lights into their bedroom windows to cutting down their border trees, to - well, let's not go there, shall we?
"Lakeview Terrace" was directed by the screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute, though in this case it was written by two others: David Loughery and Howard Korder. If LaBute had written it as well as directing it, I would like to say that he would have found something a bit deeper than this, but after squirming through "The Wicker Man," which LaBute also wrote, I have my doubts.
9/19/08 <! new pasted review ends on line above>