One of the weekend’s theatrical releases is The Best Of Enemies, a film based on a true story that deals with the friendship between a black civil rights activist, and a white supremacist. Many reviews for the film have been released, and the critical reception seems divided at best. Rounding up the latest reviews, The Best Of Enemies seems to be a movie whose premise is similar to the recent Oscar-winning BlackKklansman, but apparently a better telling of an unlikely friendship, than the Academy Award-winner of the Best Picture in 2019, Green Book.
The Best Of Enemies sees a civil rights activist Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson), a single mom and black rights advocate, clash with a KKK member, and self-proclaimed white supremacist, C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell). The two characters end up having to work together on a committee for school integration in their city in 1971. The story seemingly focuses on how their influence on one another wears down the racist mentality of Ellis, transforming him into being a believer for civil rights and integration.
While the film’s story seems similar to Green Book, also about a Caucasian man (Viggo Mortensen) and a Black man (Mahershala Ali) having to spend time together, and their experiences eventually ridding the Caucasian of his prejudices, an Indie Wire review claims it to be better than that Oscar-winning film.
In its review, IndieWire discusses how The Best Of Enemies improves upon dynamics similar to that of Green Book.
“This is still a soft and naïve slice of kumbaya pageantry that’s more compelled by the white hero’s transformation than it is by the black co-lead’s courage and integrity, but there’s an undercurrent of honesty to the story that it tells, even if there’s something a bit skewed about how that story is told.”
While The Hollywood Reporter provides a more mild criticism of The Best Of Enemies, pointing out similar problems to Green Book, and also how the lack of portrayal of the black character in the film, underserves its story.
“The movie does not completely avoid white savior territory because, in the end, it is more C.P’s story than Ann’s. It’s true that he has a dramatic change of heart, but the film too often takes her generous personality for granted.”
While this is interestingly new territory for Henson, adorning body prosthetics and a wig, looking completely unlike herself, this wouldn’t be Rockwell’s first time playing a racist. The Oscar-nominated actor was previously nominated for his turn as the racist police officer of a small town in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
The Best Of Enemies releases everywhere on April 5.