One Night In Miami, directed by Regina King and written by Kemp Powers, goes to Marvel lengths to tell a compelling “What If?” story of four giants of black history, Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Cassius “Muhammad Ali” Clay (Eli Goree), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom, Jr) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) who meet on a celebratory day on February 25, 1964 to discuss the cultural and political climate around them. Could such compelling figures and dynamic personalities make for a good movie? Would the actors spend most of their time sending up these historical figures to where they are shown as being exaggerated representations of the real people?
To answer both questions – yes and fuck no.
I imagine one of the things Regina King wanted to do with this adaptation of the 2013 stage play (also written and created by Kemp Powers) was to make each of these representations of the real people be not only worth hearing outside of their historical context but worth listening to as well. I won’t spoil the film, but the script really unravels the layers of these men and perhaps crystalizes why certain moves they made were made in the first place. In a culture currently that is hyper-critical of public figures past and present, the film doesn’t shy away from backing these historical figures to the wall to spill their own truth. This kind of winning combination of brutal honesty, brotherhood and honestly is something that should be shown in history classes that cover these figures to show that everyone who made a difference were more than just what made them famous.
I would like to see this film clean out the Oscars. Although it’s a bit early to declare this, I don’t know of a film in the last few years were I would say that outright. In fact, The Oscars should love this film for its ability to be a stripped down yet compelling piece of acting and a damn good exploration of important figures in black history.
One Night In Miami is available on Amazon Prime Video.