The Black Dove

An acoustic guitar known as the Black Dove brings together a father stumbling toward redemption and a daughter seeking reconciliation in Michael Prisco Caporale’s directorial debut. Too bad emotional honesty here is as rare as that prized 1970s Gibson. This overstuffed and plodding drama sidelines its top players with pointless story lines about drugs and police corruption instead of homing in on Jackie (Abby Wathen), an ambitious singer-songwriter stuck in a bad band and worse contract, and her father Jake Williams (John Savage), a reckless former country star returning home after eighteen years in prison.

His crimes involve underage female admirers like Jackie’s teen mom, who – in the weirdest of many strange plot twists – gave her baby to Jake’s aggrieved ex-wife Bonnie (Sean Young). Caporale doesn’t capitalize on this strange family dynamic, nor does he grasp the intricacies of the film’s setting (Detroit) or underlying subject (the music industry). He gets nothing right about the city, from municipal services to its music community. Likewise, his idea of a successful musician is both clichéd and outmoded – even for 2011, when The Black Dove was shot in Cincinnati, with no mention of online distribution or social media.

He also reduces women to shrews and harpies, while black men are either destructors (Jackie’s drug-dealer boyfriend, who looks like a porn-star Nick Fury) or saviors (the preacher-cum-blues musician who repeatedly rescues a batty Jake). As writer, director, cinematographer and editor, Caporale is a creative one-man band, and The Black Dove is seriously out of tune.

Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on November 27, 2015 by Indican Pictures
First published in LA Weekly, 2015.