Rustin – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Rustin – In the Heart of the Movement: A Character Tale

When it comes to film, the ideal notion of the experience is in the eye of the beholder.  Within a given situation, what makes us fall in awe of the visual spectacle is that grip of circumstance.  From action to romance, adventure to comedy, it is that pivotal moment that will take you away into another world.  If you feel something … the escape was worth it.  In this review, I look at the latest Netflix original.  Based on real events, this is a journey of a man’s focus to make change.  Even within the basic quips of the genre, Rustin is an intriguing look at what it means to … change the world.

This is a tale about Bayard Rustin (Colman Domingo), a civil rights activist that stands against all the odds to mark certain change in America.  Films based on actual people must find a balance between the reality (of the situation) within the designs of telling a tale.  For all that is true, there is a dynamic that must be built with characters and world-building.  In the beginning, we move through a series of scenes that build up the race issues in America.  In the late 1950s, we come into Rustin’s life through the drop-in method, witnessing his fallout with Martin Luther King Jr. (Aml Ameen) and the NAACP president, Roy Wilkins (Chris Rock).  This leads through a series of more character and world building, progressing into the early 1960s where we find Rustin, living a solemn life in New York while still participating in the activist movement.  After a series of situational moments, Rustin strikes gold when he proposes an idea for a Civil Rights march in Washington.  This catalyzes the journey, leading into a second act that is characterized with the mobilization towards the iconic 1963 march in American History.  As we build through the ‘true story’ elements, what elevates the narrative is the emotive construct built through a grounded appeal of its titular character.  Through Rustin, you get a dynamic person that provides a façade of strength through human fragility.  His interactions with various characters (in the film), builds up a person that exudes positive motives through the backdrop of racism, bigotry, and homophobia.  Through each confrontation, there is worth built through the guile of conversations, showcasing a leveled detail of perseverance and acceptance.  For all the predictable aspects of the real story, it is the strength of the characters that makes you feel the purpose of change.

As the journey moves closer to the inevitable August 1963 date, Rustin is challenged by many aspects in the community.  Through generalized moments of political and thematic motifs, we witness the strength of conversation, building through layers of the issues (of the time) within a point of reflection.  With everything mounting against Rustin’s own personal issues, the crossroads provides ironic strength in the movement.  This leads into the third act, bringing about that revelation like climax and reflective epilogue.  Rustin is a true story film that rises above through the strength of its characters.  For those of you who are fans of true story or character focus films, this is one for you.  This is available on Netflix, but it would have been fun to see it on the big screen.

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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