For Reel

Selma (2014)
January 16, 2015, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ava DuVernay
4.5 Stars
SelmaWhereas many biopics are locked in time, playing like eulogies for figures who had an integral role in bringing society to where it is now, Selma smartly balances an obsessive interest with history as much as it maintains its lasting social relevance. It’s a film about how social change is enacted–how it is lobbied for, the politics that go into gaining media attention, and ultimately how a movement becomes unified. The film isn’t history, it’s immediate. David Oyelowo is tasked with and fully succeeds in bringing Martin Luther King Jr. to life as a human as opposed to a two-dimensional icon. Much like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, King is shown to be as an adept campaigner as much as anything else, understanding that a movement needs someone at the front to actually “move” it. Screenwriter Paul Webb juggles a bit too much, even if his devotion to the history is admirable. Although King’s affairs provide texture to his marriage with Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) and the scene when she confronts him about them is a knock-out, it seems besides the point. Regardless, director Ava DuVernay capably makes the world of Selma feel lived in and enormous, populated with equally heroic figures who have stories worthy of their own telling.

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