Everyone loves a movie with a message, especially when that message is something uplifting or inspiring. Sometimes, though, the message can overpower the film, or more to the point, the message is something we could all agree with, but the film itself does not do that message justice. I'm not pointing any fingers (cough* Invictus), but does a movie like Selma live up to the message it carries?
The brief answer is a resounding 'yes'.
Telling the story of a pivotal moment for Martin Luther King Jr in the struggle for the recognition of civil rights for African American citizens in the US, Selma is bravado movie-making. Director Ava DuVernay proves that she has the chops to tell a big story, but the skill to ensure that the depiction is nuanced.
Of particular note is the way in which the script gives attention to various real life members of the group that organised and carried out the march, many of whom are still alive today. Information about the fates of those protagonists in the postscript helps to carry home the nature of the inspiration provided by the march and its surrounding events.
David Oyelowo is wonderful as King, bringing a strength to the role that underpins the momentous actions of those he works with. Once again there is depth to this portrayal, a nuanced depiction that refuses to be content with myth making, but allows for the flaws in King's private life to temper his seeming sainthood.
It's refreshing to see that the faith which drove King and his workers to be so honestly featured. Where other biopics have mentioned faith but sidelined it, Selma manages to make it clear. One is left with no doubt that it was faith that drove these people to stand against principalities and powers.
This a film I highly recommend.