Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Separate But Equal


You can’t really dislike a movie like this. It is so earnest and so well-intentioned, and the story is an important and fascinating one. But you can’t really like it much, either, because making a movie about real history without overhyping it too much with false events (as in the execrable Mississippi Burning, on much the same subject) so often means that what you’re left with … is a very slow story. One might even say boring. Sydney Poitier as Thurgood Marshall is not well cast, in my opinion. The tone of intense indignation he used so famously well by saying “They call me Mister Tibbs!” just doesn’t work that well for me when he is coming … down … hard … on … every … … … word! Add an intense whisper to the last two words, and you’ve pretty much exhausted his emotional range in this picture. Again, as I said, sincerity and good intentions does count for something, but I kept thinking that a tight, well-done one-hour documentary could have been a lot better than 3 hours and 15 minutes of arguing and debate. Let’s face it: Lawyering is not really an exciting life, in spite of what you’ve seen in the movies and on TV, and courtrooms are infrequently dramatic in real life.