One Night in Miami Review

I will admit, I went into this expecting an awful movie. I expected a boring and visually uninteresting movie that is overbearing and preachy. In my defense the trailer did little to douse those thoughts, as the trailer was boring and uninteresting. But about 20 minutes into One Night in Miami I realized, I was in for a treat.

First of all, this script is absolutely fantastic. This is the type of script writers dream of writing. It is funny, snarky, smart, and unapologetically real. While some moves lean into the spectacle of the medium, One Night in Miami embraces its more theatrical roots and grounds us. We really get a sense of who these men are, not just as the figures we know from their fame, but as individual people. We understand the turmoil Sam faces trying to spread a message while also having to pander. We understand the fear Cassius faces with his decision to convert to Islam. We understand Jim’s decision to try and find an alternative to destroying his body in the NFL. And we understand why Malcolm is fighting for what he believes in. It’s just a beautiful, powerful script.

The acting, oh my goodness. I loved the performances of every single person in this movie. There were two in particular however that stood out from the rest. Kingsley Ben-Adir did a fantastic job capturing the essence of Malcolm X, from the inflections to the stutters its almost the splitting image of Malcolm (at least from what I’ve seen). Another great performance was that of Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke. I never knew much about Sam Cooke besides a few of his songs. But Odom Jr. is able to capture both the larger than life presence of the singer and the more reserved and conflicted side he hides from his white audience.

Lastly, I thing the camera work goes a long way in this movie. It is a tall order making so few locations (and drab ones at that) visually appealing and interesting to the audience, but Regina King was clearly up for the challenge. The use of blocking, depth, and tracking were subtle. The visual style isn’t spectacle, its substance. It’s the type of work that is so good it DOESN’T draw attention. It is restrained to allow the performances and story to shine, and because of that, I consider it masterful

I fell in love with this movie. It is powerful, relevant, and an incredible display of what a script, good acting, and subtle camerawork can achieve. I give it 9 Hampton hotels out of 10.


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