First I must apologise in advance for what is going to be a slightly shorter review than my usual but this rainbeau diva needs some sleep and I want to get the out quickly!
Now, What Works:
Black or White stars Octavia Spencer (Grandmum WeWe), Kevin Costner (Poppa Anderson), Anthony MacKie (Brother of Grandmum WeWe), and a FAVOURITE new up and comer that also did a brilliant job with Selma, André Holland (As Eloise’s Father Reggie)! Then of course there is another young super star in Jillian who plays the core at the centre, Eloise.
The connection, the link between Eloise and her Poppa is tested when Eloise’s Grandmum (Carol) is suddenly killed in a horrific accident. You watch these two, their banter, their forced re-connection back and forward for nearly the entire film. And they both do a fantastic job of maintaining that bond despite all the obstacles that appear out of NOWHERE.
Let me just say Octavia Spencer’s version of Grandmum WeWe is a RIOT! She is the epitome of your stereotypical Grandmum BUT with exceptions like owning six businesses including a real estate company she runs from her garage.
It’s obvious that she likes Poppa Anderson (Kevin Costner) but she’s no doubt armed to the teeth when it comes to what should be done about Eloise after Carol’s untimely death. Octavia is nearly always fun to watch and her attitude towards her son (Holland) and his truly troubled life (which she wears blinders when it comes to him, CLEARLY) plays out SO well and you find yourself empathising with her as Eloise’ paternal GrandMum.
You also find yourself empathising with Reggie (Holland) as well just for being HER son. They come from a great family that has high expectations and is prosperous, and he’s so much more than your typical black sheep. He’s more like a BLACK HOLE coloured sheep, you can’t even SEE him!
There’s a foil in this film that most people aren’t expecting which I will NOT discuss here because it is a bit of a spoiler, but I will say this, there’s an excellent addition about 25% into the film that serves one purpose.
Eloise and Poppa Anderson are like mirrors in so many ways. and because of that reflection it’s very difficult for them to have a stressor in life and NOT have the other immediately feel that stressor and NOT be simultaneously affected by it.
They both have a tendency to wear their hearts on their sleeve and you realise from the beginning that one would indeed perish without the other. This foil has such a profound impact on the relationship of these two and the growth they both have to experience in order to begin to heal.
What Does Not Work:
Mostly semantics. Things like litigators do NOT handle family court cases. And the forced epiphanies from both Poppa Anderson and Reggie. They feel disingenuous and even contrived. The screenplay is a bit too formulaic at times. Too many moments are clearly set up as plot devices and with a bit more tweaking, said devices are redundant, irrelevant, and simply unnecessary.
With that in mind, I recommend my SWIRL Family see this film because it makes excellent use and reference of MANY of the situations (Clichés or not) that blended IR families go through. And THAT, I think, is the most awesome part of a good film.
It’s 2015, and there are far more swirl families like the one in Black Or White, it’s time to discuss these things and moved forward instead of letting socioeconomic differences break or provide a huge wedge in families such as these.
Joyll Cambridge hails from Manchester, United Kingdom and currently lives in New York, New York. She loves all things movies, fitness and swirling. To read Joyll’s personal blog at The Humanist Exec, click here.
Joyll joined our team as our Resident Movie Reviewer. Look for more movie reviews from Joyll!
Copyright ©2015 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl™, The Swirl World™, The Swirl World Podcast™, All rights reserved. Photo of Joyll Cambridge used with permission. Movie poster from the movie “Black or White” obtained from Movie Newz.