American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Long ago, on a traumatic night in childhood, something happened to forever scar the lives of two brothers named Jason and Joshua. And "Jason's Lyric" tells the story of how those two brothers grew up - one a criminal, the other dutiful and strong - against the backdrop of a love story so sweetly romantic it almost steals the show.
The story takes place in Houston, where Jason and Joshua were raised by their mother (Suzzanne Douglas) after the death of their father (Forest Whitaker), a Vietnam veteran whose loss of a leg and subsequent alcoholism earned him the nickname "Maddog." The father was not a bad man to begin with (there is a winsome scene in which his widow recalls one of their first dates), but the war destroyed him, even before he died in the event that haunts Jason's nightmares.
The two brothers love one another, but have come to live in different worlds. Joshua is quickly drawn into the orbit of Alonzo (Treach), the local gangster, while Jason falls instantly in love with Lyric (Jada Pinkett), who walks into the store one day. She's hard to get. "If we're meant to meet again, we will," she says, and when he finds her behind the counter of a soul food restaurant, he follows her home and gives her a bouquet of roses, from which she deigns to select one, with a smile.