Not for a single moment does the film turns into a preaching-to-the-choir tone, and that is its biggest achievement.
Onah’s political film isn’t exactly political. If anything it is a thriller. And that’s what I loved the most about the film than any other theme or twist or trick it showcases. The co-writer and director Juilius Onah and the play by J.C. Lee- who also co-wrote the screenplay- from which it is adapted, eventually has a political film to endorse about. But that’s as far as it would go. The debates, the ideologies or the profound theories are definitely circling around these sensitive subjects, but for the most part of the film, it is all a distraction. The actual heart of these arguments lie on the arrogance of these incredibly smart character on not bowing down to each other’s theories.
And from this spirals out a tug-of-war where step after step both of them (Octavia Spencer and Kelvin Harrison Jr.) are trying to outsmart each other. I cannot help myself but compare these throbbing philosophical and provoking arguments to Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige and its take on fame, art and sacrifice. Spence and Harrison Jr. from the very beginning are tangled into unfathomable circumstances giving them an excuse of a specific perspective that acts as a double edged sword for both of them.
Their denial isn’t what’s lagging or stretching this juicy case but is what’s making it fun, entertaining and engaging. And this is the brilliance of the narration, What could have easily comes off as a pretentious or tedious detour, is instead smoothly spicing up this political drama. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts too are integrating the performance scale to a whole new level. Just watch them all sit in a room and greet each other, in the last act of the film, the tension cuts across their ability to harness a single good intention in this meeting where they gather to talk about Luce.