On Bluray this week from director/writer Mike Binder and Relativity Media comes another film about who is right BLACK OR WHITE.
This film tells the story of Elliot Anderson (Kevin Costner), a white lawyer who loses his wife in a car accident and tries to find a way to tell granddaughter Eloise (Jillian Estell). Eloise has lived with Anderson since his own daughter died in childbirth.
Dealing with his grief, Anderson hits to drinking as he tries to become a full time Dad. Learning what Eloise needs and her daily routine, he makes his share of mistakes. Coming into their lives hard is Grandma Rowena who is African American and thinks that Eloise would be better off with her family.
When Anderson doesn’t bend to her will, Rowena hires nephew Jeremiah (Anthony Mackie) to pull out all the stops to get Eloise, including the issue of race. Reggie (Andre Holland), Eloise’s’ father reappears and once again wreaks havoc both physically and emotionally for Anderson.
It takes them all stepping into a courtroom to hear the truth about themselves and each other and all for one little girl.
Kevin Costner as Elliot Anderson puts in a strong performance as a man pushed to his limits. Although he does a horrible imitation of a drunk, I got much from his character. Filled with old anger and grief mixed with new anger and grief leads to an inevitable emotional explosion. The highlight of the film is the angry rant Costner has on the stand. Cross examined by Mackie’s character, he says exactly what he means and means what he says and it is all filled with believability.
Octavia Spencer as Rowena is a mother who seems to control everyone around her; controlling and blinded by her own son. Letting Mackie’s portrayal of Costner as a person ‘who doesn’t like black people’ to get what she wants came about because she didn’t get what she wanted when she wanted.
Anthony Mackie as Jeremiah, uses the ‘angry white man’ defense and lets his Aunt bulldoze him, along with Eloise’s’ father lying. Andre Holland as Reggie is the young girl’s father who can’t seem to decide who he is let alone be a father.
Let’s be serious – even the child Eloise (Jillian Estell) didn’t want to live anywhere else and Rowena wasn’t listening to her own granddaughter! Estell’s character actually doesn’t seem too stressed at all about what the adults were doing.
Mpho Koaho as Duvan is actually a character who seems like a person on the outside looking in. Although he is teaching Eloise and Anderson, he provides some of the films comic relief (which actually seems odd in places).
I have to give props to Paula Newsome as Judge Margaret Cummings because she wasn’t about to be played by either side. From the moment she sat down at the bench it was clear that justice is what would be done – not race. I don’t think any other person could have put up with the bull that Rowena was shoveling out. Just loved her performance!
Other cast include: Gillian Jacobs as Fay, Joe Chrest as Dave, David Jensen as Eldridge.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give Black or White three tubs of popcorn out of five. Costner’s performance (minus being drunk) is strong and gives the storyline some character. The film does have a LOSING ISAIAH (1995) feel in many ways. It is a raveling and unraveling of a family filled with a sense of their own sorrow but not sure where to place it.
Binder is also responsible for REIGN OVER ME and THE UP SIDE OF ANGER, which also starred Costner and both of these films I really enjoyed very much.
The Bluray includes Shades of Gray: The Making of BLACK OR WHITE along with Digital HD that can be played on your television, computer, tablet or Smartphone! The Bluray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is 121 minutes in length and rated PG-13.
In the end – there is more to family than what you see.