Wow! What a poignant movie! This film is set in 1971, a time of great transition, turmoil, and great progress in America, except in this case in the South.
In the beginning of this story we are shown Ann Atwater, brilliantly portrayed by Taraji Henson, in the middle of a meeting with a lawyer discussing the terrible housing being offered to the black community and how substandard it is. She has been given an audience with a lawyer, but is being brushed off and ignored. The lawyer, you see, rudely dismisses her in order to take a call, that was not wise because she does NOT take kindly to that as she grabs the phone from the lawyer and lays into him, demanding to be heard!
We see from this encounter that she is a major, no-nonsense, force to be reckoned with.
On the other side of this coin we see C.P. Ellis (played fantastically by Sam Rockwell), a hard working and high ranking member of the KKK. He is portrayed as a normal man protecting his family and traditions, however it is also shown that he is a rather violent man as well. He is dead set against any kind of integration, and is very open about that stance. Well, life sometimes had a way of challenge us, even if we don’t want it to. In this case these to opponents are thrown into a situation that forces them to challenge their respective beliefs.
Their catalyst for this battle a questionable fire that breaks out in the local black school. The damage is so severe that it forces a near total shut down if the school, which for this community means the possibility of integrating The children into one school.
Now I’m not one to give up the story, however I will say this, the way this story unfolds it takes you into, and through, the heart of these completely different people. We see where each one comes from, we see the righteous anger vs ignorant hate. In this film we see racism poisoning even the top level of their city council, we see that the clan has permeated nearly every aspect of this town. Within this turmoil there is a flash of wisdom that comes from one of the lawyers involved in the story.
I think I can say, with all honesty, that there were several moments where I was truly surprised by number of the characters in this film and how I’m both hands people did things that they would not have expected. The characters go through some deep transitions as their thoughts and beliefs are challenged.
I think nearly every aspect of this film should be critically acclaimed. I would say everything from the lighting, to the cinematography, to the very natural looking makeup, to the acting, to the directing was spot on! I left this film thinking about that time period, and how far we’ve come as well as how far we still need to go. Outside of the film are people having deep conversations which I appreciate about films, especially this kind of film. I mean even though it was set in 1971 there are still times where this issue needs to be addressed even in 2019, and it’s exciting and encouraging to see people calmly discuss these issues and use love, and respect, to break down the fortresses of these kinds of ideals.
I, for one, highly recommend this movie and looking forward to taking friends to go see it!