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Movie Breakdown: Selma

January 7, 2015

Film

People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s incredible march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama makes its way to the big screen.  Is it Oscar-worthy or just Oscar-bait?

The Reality:

Good news!  Selma is most definitely an Oscar-worthy film.  Although, I will note that I largely feel this way because of David Oyelowo’s immensely impressive portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Every time he’s on the screen it’s impossible to not get hung up on every single thing he says or does.

As for the rest of the Selma, there’s a variety of things I could take or leave.  The story is one that’s engaging and historically important, but I often felt as though I was being given the Cliff’s Notes version.  Too many things happen off-screen or are just dealt with via a quick line of dialogue.  Also, while director Ava DuVernay does a nice job overall, many of the scenes between the powerhouse dramatic moments are lackluster, and she frequently pulled me right out of the movie with various oddball elements (particularly the on-screen FBI notes).  Obviously, none of these things are outright deal-breakers, but I found them to be just naggy enough to dent my love for the film.

So, see Selma because you should, but know going in that it has some flaws that may distract you from time to time.

The Lesson:

I hope David Oyelowo has a big trophy case.

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