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FILM OF THE WEEK One Night in Miami

MARIA DUARTE recommends a fictional reimagining of the night that four icons met – at a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement

One Night in Miami (15)
Directed by Regina King

OSCAR-WINNING actor Regina King’s powerful, directorial-debut recounts the historic night of February 25 1964 in Miami, when Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) celebrated Clay becoming the heavyweight champion of the world.

It is a fascinating fictional reimagining, based on the award-winning stage play by Kemp Powers, who also wrote the screenplay.

Set at a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, these four icons of sport, entertainment and activism engage in rousing and passionate debate about their roles as celebrities and the problems they face as artists and athletes of colour.

Twenty-two-year-old Clay, toast of the world, is on the cusp of becoming a Muslim and changing his name to Mohammed Ali, his spiritual adviser and mentor Malcolm X is on the verge of leaving the Nation of Islam and forming his own black nationalist group while Brown is planning to quit football and become a film star.

Malcolm X gives Brown and Cooke (in particular) a hard time for pandering to white people and selling out to be rich and successful instead of helping the cause.

Cooke points out that he owns the rights to all his songs, has set up his own record label and is producing lots of black artists while Brown, coming to his defence, says Cooke is “the only one of us not waiting on a pay cheque from a white man.”

With razor sharp, sparkling dialogue and mesmerising performances by the four leads, King’s masterfully crafted, thought-provoking drama delivers a knockout punch as it deals with issues of racism, discrimination and injustice which, almost 60 years on, sadly still resonate today.

Maria Duarte

Available on Prime Video

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