The Best of Enemies is another movie in a long line recently dealing with the trouble history of racism in this country. It is a true story that was adapted into a book, then a play, and now a feature film. These movies have similar messages and all tug at the heart strings, but I have to try and put the emotions and the history behind while I judge this as a movie.
This was the directorial debut for Robin Bissell and I thought the movie was shot and paced well, it just felt like more of a play. Every scene felt like it would have been better on stage and not with the expanse of a full movie. Sure the story does not call for a ton of action but unlike a movie like The Great Debaters or something, Bissell did not utilize all the tools a movie can give you for a story like this.
I also thought the story had one major flaw. That flaw as that the movie ended up being more about the redemption of Sam Rockwell’s C.P. Ellis than the triumph of Taraji Henson’s Ann Atwater. I get it, a white KKK leader is drawn to the good side because of a strong African American women with values, however what about her and focusing on how she got him to do that. In my opinion that is the more interesting part of the story and I am surprised they did not focus on that.
Stock Up – Taraji P. Henson stock is soaring right now after What Men Want and this. She was a force throughout the entire movie and seems poised to be one of the biggest stars on screen. She may need to make a few better choices and get off Empire, but it is Taraji’s time and I am here for it.
Stock Up – Sam Rockwell has his stock at an all time high right now with his Oscar win recently, his role in Vice, and Fosse/Verdon on F/X as well. His role in this was an interesting part and as I said up top basically the unnecessary lead role in the movie. And to no ones surprise he is good at playing a racist who redeems himself (shocker). He does a great job in this, I just think it is time to maybe stay away from the racist characters for the next few years.
*A couple other tidbits
- People back then were really just okay with being known as Klansman in public? That just seems crazy to me and shows me how far we have come.
- Loved what Babou Ceesay brought to the table in this, he brought good emotion and clarity in every scene he was in.
This was a solid movie to start Robin Bissell’s career, it is enjoyable and has a good message about the history of our country. I just wish it leaned more to Ann Atwater’s story and not C.P. Ellis’. Other than that though it is Taraji’s time.
Juice Rating 66/100
*All my movie ratings can be found here.