Featured Post

Letterboxd Reviews

So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Movie Review - Black or White

Black or White (2014)
Starring Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Jillian Estell, Bill Burr, Mpho Koaho, André Holland, Jennifer Ehle, Paula Newsome, and Anthony Mackie
Directed by Mike Binder

While Black or White certainly isn't a deep introspective look at race relations in America, director and screenwriter Mike Binder's film surprisingly tackles multiple sides of the incessantly hot button topic.  Based on a true story, Kevin Costner is Elliot Anderson, grandfather to Eloise (Jillian Estell), a biracial young girl whose teenage mother died during childbirth and whose father is a drug addict and criminal who has had nothing to do with his daughter's life.  After Elliot's wife Carol (Jennifer Ehle) passes away, the custody of Eloise is brought into question by her paternal grandmother Rowena Jeffers (Octavia Spencer) who wonders if Elliot -- who has a tendency to drink -- is capable of raising his granddaughter on his own.

With the biracial Eloise caught in the crossfire, Black or White raises questions of culture and race with neither side coming out unscathed.  It's intriguing to see a film that doesn't shy away from both sides taking responsibility for actions rather than just playing the blame game.  There are moments on both sides of the race aisle here that were rather revealing and admittedly rang a little true.  Costner gives a good performance, but I'm still a bit unsold on Octavia Spencer who seems to be playing a very similar role here to her Oscar-winning turn in The Help (which placed in my Top Five Supporting Actresses in 2011).  There's been little stretching by her as of late (partly due to scripts that are stereotyping her a little) and I'd like to see a bit more from her in the future.

Admittedly, despite digging a little deep on the race issue, the overall story of Black or White rings a little generic.  The conclusion, which I thought may prove to be powerful, felt like a bit of a cop out.  Then again, this is based on some form of true story, so me calling it a cop out may be an unfair assessment, but cinematically, it disappointed.  However, the lead-up to the final act kept my interest more than enough to warrant this one a watch.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

No comments:

Post a Comment