About a young Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases.
I got to attend an early screening of Marshall tonight. I’m interested to see how critics react. I have a feeling many of them will object to the “paint-by-numbers” approach to the film. While we have not seen Thurgood Marshall represented much in film, it does feel like we’ve seen this movie more than once before. But that isn’t really the point. I’ve eaten spaghetti and meatballs hundreds of times before. I still enjoy it each time, the same dish, so long as it is made well. And Marshall, while not reinventing any wheels, is made well. Chadwick Boseman leads a terrific cast that includes Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, James Cromwell, Kate Hudson and Sterling K. Brown. Everyone is there to give this very important true story some depth and weight. At the same time, the screenplay never gets too caught up in its own self-importance. While some very dark themes and tragic events are present, there is a sense of humor pervading much of the film. This makes the people and events portrayed in Marshall relatable, instead of feeling like we’re watching a group of untouchable, stoic historical figures. Marshall isn’t designed to inspire anger or guilt, instead it encourages us to examine examples of unity that have been used to overcome struggle. It has more in common with films like The Help or Hidden Figures, than more aggressive films like Detroit (though that film is very intense and impressive). I would say Marshall will play out just as well at home as it does in a theater, but there is something about seeing it with a crowd that in this case adds to the experience. The gasps of the audience when an atrocity is displayed, the clapping when a bigot loses his/her battle-it is a good film to enjoy with an audience. From a technical standpoint, the film does not go out of its way to impress. The cinematography, costume and production design, music, editing-all seems serviceable if not particularly memorable. In this case its the story and the figures it portrays that you’ll remember. 7/10.