Actress and now newly director Regina King takes on the heavy responsibility of portraying the racist, fascists, xenophobic and Islamaphobic setting of America in the ’60s.
One Night In Miami follows four incredible Black figures, the night of Feb. 25, 1964. After World heavyweight champion Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) defeats Sonny Liston, he meets up with souls singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), prominent Football player Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Islam leader and radical Black activist Malcolm X (Kinglsey Ben-Adir) to celebrate. The characters, through heavy dialogue and conversation, come to terms with their place in society and their stance on the racist society they live in.
The characters each faced an internal battle of conforming to the societal inequalities and their moral and human duty to advocate for a more equal and just society.
Although the film and the characters develop at a slow pace, through their confrontational remarks, we get a deeper understanding of not only how society views them, but where they view themselves in society.
The characters, introduced individually, allows the audience a more intimate view of their lives. Malcolm X and his family deal with fear, threats and heavy stigma. Cassius is anxious about his transition into Islam and his public presence. Jim has to accept the token role he plays in society as he transitions out of his athletic career. For Sam, it’s his unwillingness to pay it forward to his community and conform to the unequal society.
Additionally, the actors do an outstanding portrayal of the legend, from their mannerisms to their personalities and their internal conflicts. Through the tender moments when characters see eye to eye to the intense moment, the history and relationship are apparent.
The film is shot mostly in the motel setting, where the characters can interact on a deeper level. Although not action-packed or thrilling, the single night encounter reveals the reality of the racially tense environment as the country moved away from segregation.
Still, the film shot with details in mind. The color play of the sets and settings rings true to the time. The costumes are beautiful and remind the audience of the timeline.
The film, through iconic figures, relays what it means to be Black in America. No matter the success, wealth or fame, the hardships will still follow you. Being one of the most iconic figures at the time didn’t save you from facing discrimination.
During a time where the battle has become heavier and heavier for Black Americans around the country, the film brings up many issues that continue to ring true to current times.
Regina King directed One Night in Miami will be distributed by Amazon Studios later this year.