Saturday, January 10, 2015

[Review] Selma

It's surprising that it took this long, but here's a feature-length film depicting Martin Luther King Jr. and his tumultuous plight during the Civil Rights Movement, specifically in 1965 during the marches from Selma to Montgomery. And it's a good one.

After directing a couple of indies (I Will Follow, Middle of Nowhere), Ava DuVernay jumps to a larger stage with Selma, and she demonstrates her skillful knack in rendering the smaller, intimate moments just as powerful as the large ones--from perspectives of both King and the people. David Oyelowo is impressively stoic, as well as vulnerable behind the scenes in his portrayal of King. Oprah is quietly devastating in her few moments of screentime during a couple of heartbreaking scenes.

The film is generally well-crafted in all aspects, and it's an important re-creation piece done right. But the cinematic conundrum here, is that of many biopics and well-documented period pieces of such magnitude--you know the story so well that you're always aware of exactly what you're in for. So, the power comes less from the actual film, and more from the thought of the real-life events and King's spoken words, which makes the film a fully competent and timely reminder of the vital ideals displayed.

Historical detail controversies aside (doesn't it happen with every historical pic?), Selma is a significantly harrowing and moving film based on a time in which the echoes can still be heard today.


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