The Best of Enemies
A black activist and a Klan leader find common ground.
“Yes, this is another semihistorical civil rights drama about a white guy,” said Mark Jenkins in The Washington Post. Two months after Green Book won a Best Picture Oscar but plenty of heat for its politics, Sam Rockwell and Taraji P. Henson are taking a turn dramatizing a new tale of a racist redeemed. To be sure, the film “skillfully follows the uplift-movie formula.” But “that doesn’t make its scenario any less irksome.” Set in 1971 Durham, N.C., The Best of Enemies restages a real-life clash over school desegregation that pitted a mother turned activist against a local Ku Klux Klan leader. The movie doesn’t aim to sugarcoat Klan history, “but it makes nearly all of its emotion and suspense depend on what the white people will do,” said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. Rockwell and Henson at least make things watchable; they “clarify and complicate their characters, paying attention to their individuality.” Eventually, the two foes are named co-chairs of a town committee charged with hammering out an accord in just 10 days, said Rafer Guzmán in Newsday. Surprisingly, Enemies “shines during the meetings,” making the unusual dramatic setting “the real star of the film.” ■