A snappy film (filler character intros aside) with a unique historical/thematic approach to the plight of Black people in the 60s. It’s well-acted (Ben-Adir’s multi-faceted turn is a highlight) and looks good, but while Clay’s youthful energy and Brown’s quiet wisdom each pair nicely with the main sparring partners X and Cooke to create some more interesting interplay, they ultimately feel like spectators to the film’s dramatic centre, so a tighter focus in the script would’ve been good.
A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime. (IMDb)
The unique narrative construction works really well–instead of a storyboard, it’s a portrait, rich with history (both intimate and expansive, romantic and tragic), colour (the cinematography is great), and overflowing emotion (joy/hopelessness, love/anger), painted with the exquisitely beautiful strokes of the score (with Tish’s narration an excellent extra touch). Some scenes are maybe a bit too long, but the emotional build-up remains powerful (the climax-less ending doesn’t do it justice).