A model student is suspected of treachery.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. deserves to be a 2020 Oscar contender, said Benjamin Lee in TheGuardian.com. The young actor is “so astounding” in this knotty puzzle of a film that “it’s tough to imagine how any of it could have worked without him.” Harrison plays Luce, a talented high schooler who is on his way to valedictorian status when a teacher finds fireworks in his locker and suggests he might be plotting violence. Luce had been a child soldier in Eritrea before he was adopted at 7 by white parents, and the central mystery here becomes who he truly is: a model teen or a ticking bomb. Luce was written for the stage, and its roots show, said Eric Kohn in IndieWire.com. But the supporting actors—Naomi Watts and Tim Roth as Luce’s adoptive parents; Octavia Spencer as the teacher—“go to great lengths to sell the premise” as the movie piles up tense confrontations. “Ingeniously subversive,” Luce poses some difficult questions, said Peter Debruge in Variety.com. “Is such a young man allowed to be his own person, or must he remain a symbol of others’ expectations?” ■