Black and white

REVIEW When Lisa (Kerry Washington) and Chris Mattson (Patrick Wilson) move into their "starter house" — since it has a three-car garage, sizable pool, sweeping hillside view, and god knows how many bedrooms, perhaps they ultimately plan to buy a castle — it seems a plus that their next-door neighbor is a policeman. Unfortunately, LAPD officer Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) has a rather heavy-handed sense of justice both on and off-duty. A widower who keeps his two children on a tight disciplinary leash, he has very specific ideas about what’s right and wrong. Soon, it becomes clear that for Turner, interracial couples like the Mattsons fall into the latter camp. It doesn’t take long before his barbed civility and leading comments turn to outright hostility, with the couple helpless to prove he’s behind acts of vandalism and other escautf8g problems. Nor can his police buddies be expected to help. Directed (but not written) by Neil LaBute, this drama builds up a fair amount of discomfiting tension, with Jackson wisely underplaying a role that could have turned into a villainous caricature. The movie deserves credit for provoking discussion rather than simply inflaming racial paranoia à la Crash (2004), even if in the end it falters by reverting to the usual thriller clichés.

LAKEVIEW TERRACE opens Fri/19 in Bay Area theaters.