Selma

First Hit:  Not as engaging as I had hoped.

The Selma, Alabama march was a seminal moment in our nation’s history.

The film follows Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) through the process, thoughts and actions leading to the successful decision by President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to push an equal vote for all while King led a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama securing the rights for blacks to vote.

Although I loved the story and remember it fondly, the portrayal of this story was only good at times. I thought there were long moments of waiting and indecision by the director which created a slowness in this film that wasn’t needed.

To set up the issue, the film begins with Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey) trying to register to vote. The voter registrar clerk, finds ways to reject Cooper’s form. The point is the unreasonableness of the registrar’s office against blacks.

The film spends a little time with King being at home with his family. Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) is strong willed, supportive of her husband, and also keeps the family together with her strength. There are a number of historical characters in this film from Andrew Young (Andre Holland), Presidential Advisor Lee White (Giovanni Ribisi) to Gov. George Wallace (Tim Roth) which give a fair amount of context to the story – especially Wallace.

Pacing of this film was methodically slow and, to me, it made this film much longer (by 20 – 30 minutes) than needed.

Oyelowo was good as King, but I never felt moved by the documented speeches as spoken by David. Wilkinson was good as LBJ, however I’m wondering about the dialogue used to represent him. For some reason it didn’t ring true with the same person who pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Winfrey was solid as Cooper, however in two of the closing still pictures, she seemed to be the focal point by being in the center – seemed a bit egotistical. Ejogo, as Coretta, provided the strongest acting of the bunch. Holland was good as the young Andrew Young. Ribisi was OK as White. Roth was powerful as Wallace. Paul Webb wrote a good script, but needed some trimming. Ava DuVernay directed this film which had pacing problems. However, the look and feel of the time was wonderfully represented.

Overall:  I was disappointed in the result of this film.