Killer Of Sheep review

A newly restored version of this rarely seen gem of African-American independent cinema, artfully photographed in monochrome by writer-director Charles Burnett whilst he was still studying at UCLA film school. The mid-to-late 1970s was the heyday of blaxploitation movies, yet Killer Of Sheep bravely offers up an elliptical, meditative portrait of family life in a socially deprived Watts neighbourhood. Its mournful protagonist Stan (Henry G. Sanders) is a slaughterhouse worker, worn down by grinding poverty and struggling to connect to his wife (Kaycee Moore) and two young children. Little happens in plot terms and the performances of the non-professional cast are rough-round-the-edges, but amid the prevailing mood of despair and alienation there are poignant moments of tenderness and visual beauty, amplified in turn by the lyrical soundtrack.

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