I saw the trailer for Luce a few months back, and I was intrigued because I couldn’t really gather what the movie was about.
Today’s trailers show or say too much, to the point where a trailer can actually spoil scenes. WHEN WILL IT END!!!!!!!
I went to The Charles Theatre (shout out to Baltimore) Monday night to watch Luce and I liked the film, but I left feeling unsatisfied with some of the story. Luce Edgar is a model student at his high school, and the town he lives in has exulted him due to his success. His grades are perfect, he is one of the top athletes at the school, and Luce has achieved all of this despite growing up as a child soldier who was trained to kill. Amy and Peter Edgar adopted Luce when he was a child, and have made sure that he grew up in an environment that was loving and supportive. Amy has this picture perfect vision of Luce, and that vision becomes blurry when Ms. Wilson, Luce’s history teacher, raises concerns to the Edgars over a paper he writes. Amy doesn’t want to believe there is anything negative going on with Luce, but Peter isn’t so sure. Amy thinks that Ms. Wilson is being over reactive based on Luce’s background, but as the story unfolds, cracks in trust develop, and it makes you question who is right and who is wrong. I really enjoyed the sharp dialogue between the characters. The drama is tense, and the subject matter is real so it made it easy to see where the characters are coming from. Kelvin Harrison Jr, who plays Luce, puts on an excellent performance as a young man who is torn between conforming to what the world says he should be, and being the person he wants to be. There is a profound scene where Luce tells Amy that he doesn’t like “tokenism” and that isn’t the kind of symbol he wants to be made out as. For the second time this year, Octavia Spencer has impressed me with a powerful performance (see Spencer in Ma if you haven’t already). Her portrayal as Harriet Wilson brought a nice level of depth and conflict to the story. The cat and mouse dialogue between her and Luce was intense, and even though her character isn’t made to be likeable, it’s very hard to disagree with what she is saying throughout the movie. I was torn by the time the end credits started rolling. On one hand, I like the questions the story raised. The implications are thought provoking, and that kept me engaged as I watched. On the other hand, I didn’t like how some of those questions were left unanswered. It wasn’t a “that’s it?” feeling, but I definitely was thinking “hey what about…..” when I left the theater. Overall, I say Luce is a solid drama. The themes of colorism, tokenism, and self-fulfilling prophecy all add to the layers of the plot. Does a person’s past dictate their future?
I recommend giving this film a view, although it may be hard to find at major theater chains. Luce is an independent film, and it doesn’t have a lot of time left in the theater, so check for the home release at the end of October.