Movie Review: “Just Mercy” on racism

Heather Teague, Staff Writer

Destin Daniel Cretton’s latest biopic, “Just Mercy”, features a talented cast and a soulful soundtrack that manages to deliver a strong yet necessary horror to audiences: hopelessness.

Set in Monroeville, Alabama, the film is packed with all the tragedy of the civil rights era, yet shockingly takes place in the 1980s.

Inspired by Bryan Stevenson’s memoir of the same name, the movie follows Stevenson, a young African American lawyer fresh out of Harvard, has resolved to represent several downtrodden death-row inmates, namely Walter “Johnny D” McMillan.

McMillan has been falsely accused of murdering a young white woman and has largely given up on fighting for his own freedom. He knows that being black in the South is often seen as a crime worse than killing

However, Stevenson is armed with not only a keen understanding of law but also hope, which is arguably the most powerful weapon of defense any human being can possess. With this young man seeking justice for the longsilenced black community, even some of McMillan’s faith is restored.

Both the leading and the supporting cast members gave impressive performances.

Michael B. Jordan’s nuanced portrayal of Stevenson demonstrates a simultaneous gentleness and passion, while Jamie Foxx conjures a rage as McMillan that is strong without seeming overly emphasized — a fact that adds to the feelings of despair throughout the film as the audience witnesses this exasperated man being literally beaten down to a state of exhaustion.

iend and collaborative partner of Cretton’s, put together a musical score that will resonate with film-goers on multiple levels. Its jazzy tones and deep vocal harmonies unite to reflect the heartwrenching struggles characters face in the everyday world of the film, illustrating the overlap of calmness and hardship in a world where practiced inequality makes life easy for some and unfairly difficult for others.

The cinematography, while not poorly executed at all, was fairly standard. The film relied on close-up shots of actors’ expressions, which, considering the subject-matter, is understandable.

“Just Mercy” is a must see film for movie buffs and casual viewers alike because its message is for everyone: when all hope seems lost, we must stand up for our fellow man. After all, we humans aren’t so different at our core, and if a film like “Just Mercy” can bring us together, even in some small way, by inspiring us to hold a little more compassion in our hearts, isn’t that one more lovely thing we can have in common? Score: 4/5 Stars