In Regina King’s feature directorial debut, One Night in Miami, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) all gather at a motel in downtown Miami to celebrate Clay’s (also known as Mohammad Ali) latest boxing win. This magnificently executed period piece based off of the play of the same name takes place in 1964 in the heat of the civil rights movement.
Each man enters the film with his own story and personal dilemma to build on. For example, Cassius is considering converting to Islam, Malcolm is devising his plan to leave the the nation of Islam and start his own offchute, Sam Cooke is hyper-focused on his career and less concerned with social justice and Jim is devising a new plan for his career in lieu of the shelf life that comes with playing professional football.
While the film is entertaining, it’s primary focus is to provoke thought and take us back to a time in our history that is beginning to feel distant for some. This is not the kind of film that has a few loud impactful scenes but rather one with a number of essential moments of nuanced importance.
When hearing that the film is based on one specific evening, it is natural to assume that something serious must have gone down to drive the plot. However, One Night in Miami is more about the dialogue amongst the men and less concerned with following a theatrical plot arc.
While the dialogue is eloquent, the time-altering costumes and sets make this film a spectacle as well. From the cars to the clothing and the motel rooms, every minute detail added to the quality of the production.
One Night in Miami is already being predicted as an Oscar nominee even though the fim will not be released to the public until Jan. 15. Make sure to stay tuned so you don’t miss out on what could be this year’s best picture.
One Night in Miami will be playing in select theaters starting Christmas Day and become available to view Jan. 15 on Amazon Prime Video.
By Blair Krassen @blairlyawake