Thursday, December 24, 2020

Movie with Abe: One Night in Miami

One Night in Miami
Directed by Regina King
Released December 25, 2020

There is a certain liberty in storytelling that allows for the modification or even fabrication of events. Dramatic license might involve the outright creation of characters or moments that help to illustrate who a person was and enable the story to progress. A timeline might also be modified to make more narrative sense, even if the actual sequence didn’t play out in the same manner. All these things are meant to make the contents of a film more accessible to audiences and deliver the most compelling cinematic product.

On one night in 1964, four iconic Black men spend an evening together in a motel room in Miami. Fresh off a major win in a boxing match, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) has plans to celebrate with his friends. He joins football player Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and soul singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) in the room rented by Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), whose idea of a good time is not in alignment with that of the other three. Instead of a raging party, the four have the opportunity to discuss their disagreements and engage with what it is that defines them as people and as famous members of the Black community.

This film is described as a fictional account of true events, since these four men did in fact come together on that night but what happened behind closed doors isn’t known. This adaptation of the play of the same name by Kemp Powers presents very much like it could be seen on stage but makes excellent use of close-ups of the characters’ faces and shifting camera angles to make the unspectacular motel room in which the majority of the film takes place feel like an infinite space. Making it into a film feels like a very worthwhile exercise that pays off thanks to many positive cinematic additions.

This cast is simply terrific, and it’s impossible to pick a standout. Each of the four makes the icon he is portraying individualized and passionate, aware of how the world sees them and unexcited about having their perspectives challenged by their closest friends. Amazon’s awards campaign has deemed Ben-Adir and Goree leads while Hodge and Odom Jr. are considered supporting players, which makes sense, but this is truly an ensemble effort that serves as an impressive directorial debut for actress Regina King. Its content and presentation feel resonant and powerful both for the history they convey and a thought-provoking engagement with the current state of race in America.


No comments: