Marshall (2017)

The Theatre/Experience:It was only five minutes to showtime when I purchased my ticket and only a few seats were open in the front row, but it was a lazy Saturday and I had been thinking about seeing this movie for a few days now.

An admirable, but foolish decision on my part. I’m too old and cranky to suffer minor inconveniences, and so I instead watched (more comfortably) from the aisle steps. Next time I’ll probably just buy my tickets in advance. Now for the review:

The Good:

I remember making a mental note to remember the music, it had that slow, twangy, delta sound that you might get from “Eve’s Bayou” or “In the Heat of the Night” (series). The kind of music that goes hand in hand with the trials and tribulations of Black and African American civil rights in cinema. I’ve always liked that music, it seems to send an unconscious signal to pay attention or be more reflective about what just happened or what’s going to happen next. And “Marshall” certainly had a number of those moments to put you at pause or unease with a feeling that just wouldn’t settle. There were also other moments when you felt triumph and pride. As with most Black civil rights movies, it delivers a positive opinion on Black pride and empowerment. The movie succeeds in not being overly political or angry, which afforded the audience room to breathe.

The cast was also enjoyable. The people you were meant to hate, you hated, for their smug look, dress, even the way they slurred their words or held their heads, and the admirable ones, you cheered despite their shortcomings. Chadwick was a nice touch for lead, but had this movie premiered twenty years ago it would no doubt have been given to Denzel. (Not to mention bonus points for the surprise cameo straight from my favorite high school soap opera!)

The Bad:

Here’s a weird one – it was too funny! I understand humor being used to soften the blow on racism and other dissatisfactory topics, but Marshall almost bordered on being a dramedy. Laughs were cued every few minutes it seemed. Though entertaining, it distracted from the real story about a black man accused of raping a white woman, on trial for his life.

Furthermore, as much as I love Mr. Boseman for his looks, speech and swag, he was just too cool for school on this one. The audience was repeatedly hit over the head with the suave, smooth presentation of a young Thurgood Marshall. The tilted hat, soulful walk, slick quip followed by the charming smirk was great for the woman in me, but grating to the movie-goer. You’re the man, Chad (can I call you Chad?), but was this the point of the story?

The Verdict:

See it on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday morning; see it with your mom or entire family; see it on a first date or with someone you’re already seeing; see it for the discussion afterwards; but mostly, just see it!

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