Luce (2019) review
It is a frightening thing that we live in a time where social media can change an entire group’s opinion about someone in a matter of minutes. It has essentially weaponized students at every high school across the nation. The effects of how teenagers are viewed by their peers, teachers and parents can have a huge impact on their psyche. This film explored this topic among many others very intelligently. The acting was phenomenal, the story was very entertaining and the music was used to build the dramatic scenes in a beautiful way.
Luce (2019) was written by JC Lee and Julius Onah and directed by Julius Onah. It stars Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. Luce (Harrison Jr.) is a high school senior. He is on the debate team and the track team. He is an accomplished student and athlete with a bright future. The teachers at his school all root for his success, because he was born in war-torn Eritrea and brought over to the US at a young age to start a new life. His adopted parents raise Luce into a successful student. Things are going very well until Luce writes a paper about solving problems with violence that concerns his history teacher Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer). She decides to search his locker and finds illegal fireworks. What follows is a search for the truth and suspicion of the most unlikely scenario - is Luce as innocent as he seems?
Talk about a master manipulator at play. I don’t know if I can say for sure that Luce was guilty of everything he was accused of because of how elusive he was in nature. I personally think Luce is an extremely scary dude who was playing everyone. I certainly don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say this - this was one of the most thought provoking movies I have seen in a long time. I don’t think there was one character in this story that didn’t show a little shady side. It goes to show you in the pursuit of justice, you will find that nobody is innocent. The story was brilliantly told and executed. I could really feel the frustration from Luce’s parents when they were feeling hopeless and not sure what to do about their son. The actors were all extremely good - although I feel that maybe they were not used to their full potential. Tim Roth is such a capable actor and this role did not showcase that.
This was an all around great movie, however it is one you will not want to turn your brain off for. You will want to pay close attention during this one, but it is well worth it. Anyone who likes an intelligent movie will dig this one.
The film was based on the play of the same name by J.C. Lee, who helped co write the script.
Luce (2019) had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2019 and was theatrically released on August 2, 2019 by NEON.
- The film was shot on 35 mm film.
The film made over 2.2 million dollars worldwide in the box office.
Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Naomi Watts
- Kelvin Harrison Jr. actually wrote a paper on Frantz Fanon as part of his research for the role; Octavia Spencer then graded it, and that paper is the one seen on screen.
- Naomi Watts was convinced to take the role after watching Kevin Harrison Jr.’s audition tape.
- Naomi Watts and Tim Roth previously starred as parents in Funny Games (2007).
- The director Julius Onah felt it was important to rehearse with actors to help his process. The actors rehearsed with each other before filming to create deeper familiarity, this includes a rehearsal in which all the young actors joined up in New York to hang out and develop a deeper backstory and understanding of their characters.