Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) is a young, attractive, sexually independent Brooklynite who juggles three suitors: the polite and well-meaning Jamie Overstreet (Tommy Redmond Hicks); the self-obsessed model Greer Childs (John Canada Terrell); and the immature, motor-mouthed Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee). Nola is attracted to the best in each of them, but refuses to commit to any of them, cherishing her personal freedom instead, while each man wants her for himself.
Her carefree sexually liberated lifestyle ultimately comes to an end when her three male suitors meet and compare notes on Nola. While Greer justifies Nola’s callous behavior by claiming that she sees the three not as individuals but as a collective, Jamie and Mars become bitter over how little Nola cares for all three men.
Realizing that Mars and Greer are too scared of losing Nola to force her to choose one of the three men, Jamie lays down an ultimatum to her that she must choose a single lover. Nola scoffs at this decision, and visits him several days later at his apartment for casual sex. Jamie rapes Nola, while mockingly asking her if he’s as good sexually, as Greer or Mars.
Being raped causes Nola to have an epiphany: realizing that promiscuity has turned Jamie against her, she decides to call Jamie’s bluff. Nola dumps Greer and Mars and then tells Jamie that she’s is ready for a monogamous relationship. However, there is a catch: Nola, believing that her promiscuity is the source of her inability to commit to a single guy, wants the relationship to be celibate for the time being. Though he at first rejects Nola’s “no sex” decree, Jamie agrees to it after initially saying no.
She’s Gotta Have It is a 1986 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Spike Lee. It is Lee’s first feature-length film. The film stars Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks and John Canada Terrell. Also appearing are cinematographer Ernest Dickerson as a Queens resident and, in an early appearance, S. Epatha Merkerson as a doctor.
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Directed by: Spike Lee
Starring: Tracy Camilla Johns, Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee, Raye Dowell, Joie Lee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Cheryl Burr, Stephanie Covington
Screenplay by: Spike Lee
Production Design by: Wynn Thomas
Cinematography by: Ernest R. Dickerson
Film Editing by: Spike Lee
Costume Design by: John Michael Reefer
Art Direction by: Ron Paley
Music by: Bill Lee
Distributed by: Island Pictures
Release Date: August 8, 1986