Monday, August 17, 2020


Sometimes great historical figures behave like stock characters. Admiration is created by a certain degree of idealization. In the end Ben Kingsley’s Gandhi (1982) can seem both larger than life and closer to superhero status. That’s actually the pleasure of Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall (2017). Chadwick Boseman plays the young Thurgood Marshall and he’s almost typecast as a brilliant and swashbuckling NAACP defender who isn’t all that bad when with his fists when he’s attacked by bigots. Josh Gad who plays Sam Friedman, Marshall’s defense partner in the case of an Afro-American man Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown), accused of raping a white woman, Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson). Friedman has a paunch and wears glasses. He's brave but not so good with his hands. When he gathers his family up, you know they’re on their way to the synagogue. His son also wears glasses, as he sits in the back seat of the car. The movie begins with Friedman, an insurance lawyer getting his sleazy client off on a technicality. Can he use his talents in the service of the good? It’s all fairly predictable, but, at the same time, the kind of artifice that’s close to truth. What adds to the enjoyment is the fact that the story is an evidence-based cliffhanger a la Perry Mason. Will the unjustly accused defendant be freed? That’s the courtroom suspense (and it will keep you on the edge of your seat) but it’s a metaphor for the larger drama of Marshall becoming a leading figure in legal defense and jurisprudence and the first Afro-American justice of the Supreme Court.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.