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Fences; Loving; The Founder; The Student and more – review


It’s the films about the African American experience that provide this week’s dramatic highlights

Two very different kinds of awards-approved acting, both penetrating in their own way, are on display in Fences (Paramount, 12) and Loving (Universal, 12), a pair of stern, stately but intimate portraits of the black experience in mid-20th-century America. In the former, Viola Davis and Denzel Washington hurl the furiously worded speeches of playwright August Wilson at each other with blazing, bruising intensity – the thespian equivalent of bare-knuckle fighting. The latter, though, gives Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton about as many words in total as Davis and Washington burn through in a couple of minutes. As interracial spouses feeling the blunt force of the deep south’s disapproval, they communicate in the kind of expressive shorthand that develops when entire lives must be lived on the quiet; Negga, in particular, emotes with the exquisite pain of a silent film tragedienne in a talking world. Yet in Wilson’s study of working-class marriage on Pittsburgh’s social margins, Davis, who won a hard-earned Oscar for her trouble, rages against her negligent husband with the desperate volume of a woman whose voice has never been counted.

Meanwhile, none of the targeted awards attention materialised for The Founder (Studiocanal, 12), John Lee Hancock’s smart, deceptively bright biopic of Ray Kroc, the man who turned McDonald’s into a global business empire. Peppy primary colours mask a pickled, conflicted cynicism over the moral corruption that made an American institution great. Passed over at the time, it should come to be seen as an accidentally inaugural film of the Trump era.

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Source: Guardian

By Max Schindler