Higher Learning

Released 1995


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Movie Summary

John Singleton
Higher Learning is a 1995 drama from acclaimed director John Singleton. The film features a large ensemble cast playing the students and teachers of the fictional Columbus University, a large school where racial tensions and sexual pressures are propelling three freshmen students into new and sometimes dangerous chapters of their lives. Omar Epps plays Malik Williams, a black track star. Malik doesn't perform well in his classes, but his speed on the track has earned him a college scholarship. Kristy Swanson plays Kristen Connor, a naïve white woman whose shy and complacent personality puts her at risk of being overrun by the sex and party obsessed college crowd. Michael Rapaport plays Remy, a confused white man from an abusive house who struggles to fit in at Columbus University. The lives of these three students intersect as they develop as individuals and try to survive college life. Malik falls under the tutelage of Fudge (Ice Cube), a black nationalist who warns Malik against being used by the school for his physical abilities only. Kristen Connor learns first-hand of the frightening dark side of frat parties. Jennifer Connelly plays Taryn, a lesbian who helps Kristen find her place at the school. Remy falls in with a crowd of white supremacists, putting him in a hateful and dangerous lifestyle. Higher Learning is a cautionary tale of college life, featuring a best-selling soundtrack with songs by OutKast, Rage Against the Machine, Tori Amos, and more.moreless


Metacritic Score

  • 75

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Singleton's film is interesting for a lot of reasons, but especially because he stands outside this campus system and looks at it with a detached eye.

  • 60

    The New York Times Janet Maslin

    Higher Learning culminates in facile violence instead of the assurance that this film maker, in trying to explain forces that oppress his characters, has really done his homework.

  • 60

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    Despite a weakness for trying to tie things up with melodramatic violence, Singleton remains a fluid filmmaker who works well with actors. He may not be there yet, but he is on the...

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African-American Drama, Love & Romance, Gay & Lesbian