Title – Selma (2014)
Director – Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere)
Cast – David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Wendell Pierce, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr, Martin Sheen
Plot – Looks at the time Martin Luther King Jr. (Oyelowo) and his many followers set about staging a protest march for voting rights of the coloured race from Selma to the town of Montgomery, towns deeply set in racial ways.
“We negotiate, we demonstrate, we resist”
Review by Eddie on 03/07/2015
With a powerful script and an equally powerful lead turn from the next to unknown David Oyelowo, Selma is a fascinating look at a single period of time in the life of revolutionary Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. that shines a light on a perhaps oft forgotten moment in history that defined a benchmark moment in the history of the United States.
While we wait for the eventual straight up biopic of the beginnings and trials of King Jr, Selma acts as the single most powerful big screen incarnation of the larger than life figure we’ve yet seen and it’s largely due to screenwriter Paul Webb’s on point script work, promising female director Ava DuVernay’s keen eye and the aforementioned turn by one time supporting actor Oyelowo.
Selma is a powder keg of explosive moments and scenarios yet with the restraint shown by all both behind and in front of the camera, it never overacts into melodrama or cheap emotional payoffs, every bit of emotion here is earnt by hard work and a clear affiliation for what all are a part of in this retelling of the movement. It’s a credit to the film also that a film largely based around dialogue exchanges and small character moments feels so big in scope and by the films finale, you know what you’ve witnessed is quality Oscar worthy material.
It’s hard not to talk about Selma now in the aftermath of it’s much publicised Oscar appearance that saw it walk away with a solitary Best Original Song award for the quality John Legend/Common collaboration Glory and in the months that have passed there is still no real clear reason as to why in particular Oyelowo was not at the very least nominated for his turn as King Jr.
Capturing both the man’s mannerisms, speech and appearance, Oyelowo transforms into King Jr in an outstanding fashion and displays a soul in his character that many actors can only aspire to when taking on such well known figures of history. Thanks to Oyelowo’s turn we feel the heat of the battle King Jr finds himself in and his desire for what a march through the racially rampant backwoods of Alabama would mean to his peoples cause, its powerful stuff, fantastically played out.
Selma is not flashy or perhaps even overly cinematic but it’s an important retelling of a moment in America’s past that helped transform a nation into what it is today. With a raft of solid acting turns that is powerfully fronted by Oyelowo, DuVernay’s film is a worthy dramatization of the events that took place in 1965 and a timely reminder to all about the struggles that many in the land of the free once, not so long ago, had to endure.
4 unlucky clergyman out of 5