Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★½

Judas and the Black Messiah is a remarkably effective tragedy and timely reminder of the social injustice still at play in America today. Daniel Kaluuya is outstanding as Fred Hampton, bringing all the charisma and compassion needed to the character to convey that this was a man who was on track to change the world for the better. The film is great on this front alone, but where it really takes things to the next level is in the decision to tell the story from the perspective of William O'Neal, the man who betrayed him. It's a challenging way to tell a story and the film succeeds in meeting that challenge. LaKeith Stanfield is incredible in the role. It's a nuanced performance that grapples with the difficult, lose-lose situation a desperate man finds himself in. There's an extremely fine line here that the film walks, avoiding outright condemnation on one side and absolution on the other. It feels like a genuine, compassionate attempt to understand the social conditions that would drive someone to do something so horrible. It's wonderfully shot by regular Steve McQueen collaborator Sean Bobbitt and has an excellent score. It's only February but this is one of the best 2021 movies I have seen so far. I'll stop here, as this is a relatively new release at the time of this entry and I don't want to spoil anything (plus a lot of people have already seen it and don't need to rehash specific details).

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