Selma (2014)

PG-13   |    |  Biography, Drama, History

Selma (2014) Poster

A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.


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23 January 2015 | Sergeant_Tibbs
| An intelligent, resonate and expertly crafted piece, if a little dry.
Poor Selma. This Oscar season is quite unsatisfying without being able to see Selma live up to its full potential had a proper awards campaign taken place. While I expected it to still do well with the Academy, instead it makes an appearance similar to Pride at the Golden Globes. Sitting (almost) alone in the Picture category representing a minority. At least it seems it'll win Best Song. There's two aspects that sorely deserved a nomination, with all due respect to their peers. One is David Oyelowo's performance as Martin Luther King Jr., who nails his articulate speeches with an arresting passion. Sparks fly in his hands and you can't take your eyes off him. The second is Ava DuVernay's direction, whose delicacy, intelligence, and gravitas shine on screen. I marvel at how she wrote those original speeches yet still demonstrates a remarkable restraint. Selma takes itself deadly seriously, there's not a lick of humour to be found, and any break from documenting its events are often downbeat character moments.

There's a reason - the critics weren't kidding when they said that Selma feels like a mirror to society today with the violence and unrest. It's almost disturbing, but it resonates stronger than I ever expected. The film may be very dry, but every time it starts to lull it grabs you back, often in Oyelowo's hands. The most rousing moments of the film are when people are joining arms to do something together. Bradford Young's cinematography is the aspect that really holds it together. He relishes in the darkness, pushes objects to the edge of the frame, and holds so much tension in the air. At the very least, he makes this film such expertly crafted cinema. However, I would've liked to have seen King withstand a bit more damage. He may be courageous but it's difficult to have a truly compelling protagonist without taking some punches themselves. Perhaps Selma is too broad for its own good. It may not incite a fire in me like the filmmakers have, but I certainly admire the filmmaking. Lots of bright futures in this cast and crew.


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