With its PG-13 rating, I fully expected Marshall to be a cheesy, generic film that only hoped to make its viewers feel good. Instead, we actually get a feature-length picture that wants to tell an actual story that is able to be lighthearted in some instances as well as serious in others. This is usually a fine line for a director to walk, but Reginald Hudlin does a fine job of doing this. Not only does it allow the film to have the type of personality it needs to have, it also gives it a chance to be mature and balanced.
Based around an early case of his career, Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) travels to Conneticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) against accusations of rape and attempted murder from a wealthy white socialite (Kate Hudson) who is also his employer. In search of a high-profile victory, Marshall teams up with a Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), a Jewish lawyer who has never actually tried a case before. Together, the two must face prejudice in a segregated town while trying to uncover the truth as they fight for a fair trial.
Aside from the rating, a part of the reason why I expected this to be safer than it is came down to the marketing. There obviously hasn’t been much in terms of promotion, but what we were offered had an upbeat nature to it that doesn’t vibe with the actual story that we get. While the marketing seems to want to appeal to the young and hip, it’s certainly a picture that was made for adults even if it’s not deserving of the usual R rating that you might expect from something like this.
Aside from Hudlin’s directing abilities, another thing that assists in making Marshall a worthwhile experience is the acting. It seems as if everyone involved eagerly played their part in making this the movie that it is. While it’s not a film that will be welcomed with major fanfare, these guys were professional in their approach and made themselves look good in a way that should help them heading into the future.
For the main actors in particular, we get something that relies on them to perform well and in a cohesive manner since they have to interact with one another as much as they do. I found that the personalities that they display really play off of one another in a way that’s really effective. This is a dynamic that works both in and out of the courtroom as they have to understand one another while also pushing their personal needs to the side for a greater cause.
What makes Marshall different from many movies based on people who are as impactful as he’s been is that it’s an intimate feature film. Doing it this way gives the creators a chance to tell a story that is 100% worth telling. It also gives audiences an opportunity to find out more about Marshall as a man rather than just seeing him as another a symbolic piece of history. What we get to see because of this is his personality, how he dealt with tough situations and just how intelligent the guy was. For myself, that was more interesting than just about anything else.
While it won’t likely be nominated for too many awards or anything, Marshall is a well put together film that I’m happy to have taken the time to see. Hopefully, it’s gets more eyeballs on it than I think it will, but if it doesn’t, the people who watch will probably come out of it feeling the same way I do. Either way, it’s one that the likes of Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens and the rest can put into their portfolios as a movie they can proud of being a part of as they continue to build up their resumes for future projects.
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Sterling K. Brown
Film Length: 118 minutes
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
- Score - 7/107/10