In the way it captures the injustice, high stakes, and high-running emotions of the revolution it triumphs, and loudly–the music, the sounds, the turns all scream for your attention (see especially Hampton’s welcome home speech). As a whole it feels a bit scattered though, with biopic-obligatory-feeling side plots (see Jake’s revenge), teased but discarded character dynamics (see Roy’s discomfort with Hoover), and a titular relationship that doesn’t quite live up to its dramatic potential.
An engaging and hilarious whodunnit with one of its biggest twists being an early reveal and a shift in the point of tension that works wonderfully well and adds a good heaping of heart to the already whip-smart script (see the knife line tie-in at the end, the return of the mug in one of the best final shots I’ve ever seen). The final twist is well-drawn but a little drawn-out, but that’s the only misstep in this marvelously decorated, cleverly edited, and perfectly acted mystery/family drama.
Its quirky exterior (love that soundtrack and those earrings) fits the story on first blush (the telemarketing bosses provide lots of laughs; Cassius is a loveable existence-pondering lead) but then through the indie candy coating burst some terrifying plot points (see the final riot through the crack) and provoking and poignant thoughts on capitalism and the normalizing of evil–all of it creating this quasi-surrealist sort of tone that’s highly discomforting in how ultimately real it feels.
Evangelist Carlton Pearson is ostracized by his church for preaching that there is no Hell. (IMDb)
The Christian jargon often comes off as a little wooden; maybe it’s because a lot of it feels like it would’ve had to be indoctrinated (Carl’s reasoning at the heresy trial spoke well to this), but the more progressive theology is a bit ham-fisted too. Ejiofor is excellent though, as an imperfect man wrestling with tradition, conviction, and consequences, and along with beautiful cinematography and a solid score this makes for a number of powerful scenes that overshadow most kinks in the script.