For the last year or so, I have been wondering when certain historic figures would be portrayed in a movie (I can’t remember the last time I saw George Washington in a film). Now finally comes the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s turn, and it is a winner.
Like “Lincoln” (2012), we get to see MLK Jr. not as a national treasure, but as a human being, filled with flaws and emotions. The actor responsible for playing him is David Oyelowo. He is beyond remarkable. He plays King after his famous “I have a dream” speech, fighting still for equal voting rights in the south.
The rest of the cast is phenomenal, including Tom Wilkinson as President LBJ, Tim Roth as George Wallace, and others such as Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., and (an uncredited) Martin Sheen.
The real star of this film, however, is its director Ava DuVernay. She is on her way to being the first African American woman to being nominated for an Oscar. I would be shocked if she was not. She brings the raw grit and realism to the story, and makes us stop to think that we may have come far from where we were in the 1960s, but (especially with what is happening in the country recently), we still have a long way to go.
Parents, this movie should be watched by any kid as young as middle school. There is swearing, violence, and one suggestive moment, but it is historic material that should be viewed. It is a history lesson, but it is far from boring. There are moments where I said “Wait, didn’t this happen?” and then it happen. It is one of the best movies of the year.
Overall: Four Stars ****