“The more I learned about them, the more it seemed natural they would have been drawn to one another. They were unapologetic in their art. They were unapologetic in their political beliefs. And in the early 1960s to be a free, unapologetic Black man was quite a rarity.”Kemp Powers, screenwriter/executive producer ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
On the night of Muhammad Ali’s, still known as Cassius Clay, 1964 defeat of Sonny Liston, he joined three iconic friends – Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown – to celebrate his win. No one exactly knows what happened that evening, except for Mr. Brown who is the only one of the four still among us, but Kemp Powers took what he learned from autobiographies/biographies and interviews to create a fictional account – first turning it into a play and now a film directed by an icon herself, Academy award-winner Regina King.
With grand performances across the board, with Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Eli Goree as Cassius Clay, Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown, and Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke, “One Night in Miami” is a celebration of friendship and “iron sharpening iron,” as the evening chronicles both conversational highs and lows with ample amounts of reflection and motivation as well as disagreement and disappointment.
With Ben-Adir displaying the contemplative and inciteful nature of Brother Malcolm, Goree perfecting the conceit and grandeur of Clay, Hodge mastering the vocal cadence and simultaneous quiet and explosive nature of Brown, and Odom Jr. dynamically portraying the conflicted, talented and boss level nature of Cooke, Regina King’s direction shines while allowing the four personalities to play against and complement each other at the historic Hampton House, after the characters are introduced and developed in other settings.
It’s modest storytelling yet highly engaging, with powerful messaging – especially regarding civil rights – that remains relevant and resonates strongly in 2021.
This is the perfect film to watch and discuss with the family (R rating but I would recommend age twelve and above) on this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. I rate it 5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI is streaming now on Amazon Prime.
Until next thought, Thomasena