Film Review: Taking ‘Steps’ to Forgiveness

In the opening scenes of Eddie Harris’ screenplay for “Steps,” a man (Rob Morgan) is randomly shot in a robbery outside a Jersey City bodega, is injured enough to lose his job and fall into into alcoholism, which causes him to drunkenly swing at his pregnant wife, sending him out on the streets.

Fourteen years later, he’s still homeless but sets himself on a path back with the help of a local pastor. Eventually he gets a job as a home care assistant, only to find himself having as a client the very dude (Walter Fauntleroy) who shot him so many years ago. He, too, by now had been shot and is in a wheelchair.

And though their working relationship is testy to say the least, it leads to an acceptance and forgiveness that is at the heart of the film, directed by Rock Davis and Jay Rodriguez Jr. 

And that would be enough on which to build a credible urban story of struggle and rising above, but Harris throws in all kinds of other storylines: the temptations surrounding a teenage son (Darius Kaleb) and his hopes to snare a girlfriend, the relationship problems of Brian’s ex (Tia Donne Hodge) and her questionable new fiance (Justin Kennedy). Even the sage advice of the pastor (Robert McKay) can’t stand alone either; his own love life factors before it’s all done. 

Clocking in at nearly two hours, it’s almost as if “Steps” could play better as a limited series on a cable service the way the storylines proliferate and characters appear. Or maybe it’s a reflection of the traditions of entertainment- and uplift-minded gospel and black theater productions that have to end with universal happiness and mass weddings, the way Shakespeare used to.

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