One Night in Miami review: Regina King directs a ‘powerful meeting of icons’

Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay now

Get email updates with the day’s biggest stories

Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice

Making her feature directorial debut, renowned and Oscar-winning actress Regina King adapts Kemp Power’s acclaimed play One Night in Miami for the big screen.

The film follows a fictionalised take on a real night in history on 25 February 1964, following the victory of iconic Black boxer Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) to become World Heavyweight champion. Cassius plans on celebrating his success with his friends, but his mentor and civil rights icon Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) has a more contemplative night in mind.

In a small Miami hotel room, Cassius and Malcolm are joined by football icon Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and singer-songwriter/music producer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) who find themselves instead of enjoying the revels to be reflecting on their careers and their contribution to fighting for Black empowerment.

As all four men face a pivotal crossroads in eacg of their lives, will this heated discussion bring them closer together or further apart?

Regina King makes her feature directorial debut with One Night in Miami
(Image: Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

Read More
Related Articles


  • Supernova review: Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci are 'beautifully understated'

Read More
Related Articles


  • Kajillionaire review: Evan Rachel Wood leads Miranda July’s 'offbeat dramedy'

King avoids the two most common results of adaption a stage play. There are not extravagant cinematic flourishes to distance the film from its origins but nor does the film feel overly staged and stilted. Instead, its direction feels entirely natural and demonstrative of its period setting but also grounded in the performance of its four wonderful leads.

Firstly, Kingsley Ben-Adir offers a serene but melancholic take on Malcolm X who is fearful of an ambitious change he plans to make and what the repercussions will be for his revolutionary fight. His intelligence and passion is well-drawn, particularly in the hotel room scenes, offering a thoughtful take on the powerful historical figure.

The four icons celebrate Cassius Clay's boxing victory
(Image: Amazon Prime Video/YouTube)

Read More
Related Articles


  • Mangrove review: Steve McQueen film is 'stirring, pulsating, and heartbreaking'

Meanwhile, Eli Goree makes a charismatic, charming and dominating Cassius Clay who is on the verge transformation into the iconic Muhammad Ali, with the friendship between Cassius and Malcolm providing one of the strongest threads in the film as they discuss faith, belief in oneself and desires for the future.

Aldis Hodge receives the least weighty material as NFL player Jim Brown who is contemplating a permanent career change, but an unsettling early scene where Jim pays a visit to a face from his past back home, played by Beau Bridges, is expertly handled by Hodge. There is also a down-to-earth gravitas in his work when the four icons are unpacking issues in front of each other.

Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) has some truths to tell in One Night in Miami
(Image: Amazon Prime Video/YouTube)

Read More
Related Articles


  • BFI London Film Festival 2020: Big releases and hidden gems from Ammonite to Limbo

Finally, Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. brings killer vocals, a quiet fury, and a bruised resolve to Sam Cooke, who provides the most emotional and nuanced through-line in the film. Cooke’s pragmatic career choices come under fire and the singer defends his decisions but also shows his regrets and hopes in an uncertain time. Odom Jr.’s final scene is perhaps the most memorable in the picture and it will be a crying shame if awards talk doesn't beckon.

In these tense but also warm exchanges, the men discuss careers, fights for the Black community, mortality, legacies, colourism, and, most importantly, kinship with each other, despite differences.

The film also stars (L-R, back) Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown, Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke, and Eli Goree as Cassius Clay
(Image: Amazon Prime Video/YouTube)

Read More
Related Articles


  • Saint Maud review: Director Rose Glass is a 'new mistress of horror'

A passion, admiration, and empathy for all four men is felt from Regina King’s direction, aided by a rich script from Kemp Power. This does not feel gimmicky or caricature-ridden at all, but a fascinating portrait of four icons who also happen to be four friends.

Verdict

One Night in Miami is a faultless directorial debut for Regina King that portrays a powerful meeting of icons at a pivotal moment in each of their lives.

One Night in Miami is showing as part of BFI London Film Festival 2020 and will be released on Amazon Prime Video on January 15, 2020.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *