Selma

"Essential"

Selma Review


One of the finest biopics in recent memory, this drama manages to present someone as iconic as Martin Luther King Jr. as a normal man anyone can aspire to emulate. Anchored by an internalised performance from David Oyelowo, the film is skilfully directed by Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere) with a sharp attention to subtle details. And the script by newcomer Paul Webb draws the characters with such complexity that the film has provoked controversy from people who like their heroes untextured.

The film enters Martin's story as he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside his activist wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo) in October 1964, just over a year after his soaring "I have a dream" speech. And a few months later, he's called to Selma, Alabama, to help blacks who are being denied the right to vote by racially motivated voter registration laws. Martin meets with President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), who has more pressing things on his political agenda, then heads to Selma to lead a march on the state capitol in Montgomery. But the peaceful protest is met with nightmarish violence, ordered by Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth). So as the protesters regroup and plan a second march, Martin heads back to Washington to challenge Johnson to set some new priorities.

Cleverly, the script just covers a few months, punctuated with a series of King's most rousing speeches. Since none of this is presented for its big inspirational value, it has a much stronger kick than we expect. The film's punchiest scenes are almost silent, as King struggles to knot his tie before an appearance or fails to find the words to confess his infidelities to his wife. Oyelowo is so transparent in the role that King emerges as an everyday man with a gift for oratory in the right place at the right time. But it's his steely desire to do the right thing that makes him inspirational. And how he reacts when he discovers the human cost of his actions.

All of the acting is revelatory. Wilkinson brings layers of complexity to Johnson, who sometimes feels like the bad guy but is clearly on the right side from the start. Roth is even more mesmerising as the deeply racist Wallace. And there are pointed cameos from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Martin Sheen, Dylan Baker and Cuba Gooding Jr. Meanwhile, DuVernay's direction is so beautifully sure-handed that it keeps us breathlessly glued to the screen. By refusing to play to the myth, she has created a film about real people dealing with huge issues that are as timely today as they were 50 years ago.


Selma Trailer

 



Selma

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th January 2015

Box Office USA: $2.1M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Harpo Films, Cloud Eight Films, Celador Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 79

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner

Starring: as Martin Luther King, as Lyndon Baines Johnson, as Coretta Scott King, as Andrew Young, as James Orange, as John Doar, as Lee White, as Ralph Abernathy, as Annie Lee Cooper, as Gov. George Wallace, as James Bevel, Cuba Gooding Jr. as Fred Gray, Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Bayard Rustin, as Diane Nash, as Amelia Boynton, David Dwyer as Chief Wilson Baker, as Frederick Reese, as J. Edgar Hoover, Ledisi Young as Mahalia Jackson, Kent Faulcon as Sullivan Jackson, as Richie Jean Jackson, as Rev. C.T. Vivian, as Rev. Hosea Williams, Stephan James as John Lewis, Keith Stanfield as Jimmie Lee Jackson, Charity Jordan as Viola Lee Jackson, Trai Byers as James Forman, Stan Houston as Sheriff Jim Clark, Nigel Thatch as Malcolm X, as James Reeb, Tara Ochs as Viola Liuzzo, as Frank Minis Johnson

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