Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah

At the beginning I greatly appreciated the matter-of-fact-ness of this, but by the end I found it perhaps a little too matter-of-fact. There's some fire missing, perhaps because of the steady perspective shifts between the two leads, keeping the film's overall focus from ever feeling as emotionally engrossing as it could.

At the same time, it's hard to know how serious the "it feels like a normal biopic" complaint should be, when the contrast between this and something like the neoliberal-centrist waffling of The Trial of the Chicago 7 is so extreme. American studio films lately, in an extremely politically turbulent time, have become perhaps more allergic than ever to having a real point of view, and this film depicts actual revolutionaries in a clear-eyed, uncompromised way. That is enough to make it feel pretty novel.

Daniel Kaluuya is the other standout aspect here, giving a really amazing and layered performance, without leaning too hard on any one aspect. LaKeith Stanfield is great also, but the parts of the film focusing on him have a strange unease to them, like the filmmakers could have leaned into the cold hopelessness of his character more.

At the end of the day, I appreciate the existence of this film just because I didn't know a lot of this history, it counters white American imperialist propaganda in a fairly successful way...aaaaand it still feels basically like a biopic at the end of the day. A big improvement on many of its contemporaries in this genre, but even more can be accomplished!

Leonora Anne liked these reviews