Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★½

I sat on this film for a few days without writing a review because I wanted to see whether it would stick with me for a while after watching. Ultimately, the scenes that stuck with me the most are the two bookends and the segments that mix documentary and fiction in a way thus far only achieved (within black American cinema) by Spike Lee. Most of the rest is, as much as it pains me to say it, a pretty conventional biopic, and quite Oscar-baity. The monologue-to-monologue structure of the second act struck me as more of a way to fish for memorable quotes and make Daniel Kaluuya flesh his acting muscles, rather than convey actual political meaning.

However, I really wanna focus on the positives, here. The lightning and production design are absolutely stellar. Most of the film is basked in these green/orange lights that make every scene incredibly expressive. The performances are, obviously, great. Most importantly, the film keeps itself a span above most conventional biopics by being pretty explicitly anti-police, showing how racial bias is deep-rooted within the system. Sadly, I can't help but think that the general audience will miss a lot of the nuances that the film tries to convey, perhaps because most of them are lost in the narrative miasma rather than being summarised at the end through a central thesis. I'm not saying this is good or bad, just making a prediction.

Also, together with Nomadland, this is probably the strongest contender for Best Picture, so heads up for that.

Francesco liked these reviews