“The Best of Enemies” is about a KKK leader and a Civil Rights Activist who need to understand/overcome their differences toward one another. In order for a public school to integrate both white and black students.
This was a movie that I feel didn’t know exactly what to focus on. For that, it came off as confused, unorganized, and a bit long. With some good mixed in there.
The performances between the two leads, played by Sam Rockwell and Taraji P. Henson, were good. Their chemistry between them was entertaining. Whenever there were scenes of them together, I would sometimes get a laugh on how these two polar opposite people would play off each other.
One thing though about Henson’s character, Ann Atwater, that bugged me was the fatsuit she wore. It didn’t match proportionally well to her physique. For that, I feel that Henson was a bit miscast. Now she does play the part well, but the poor execution of the fatsuit made me think they could have at least found another actress who looked similar to the real Atwater.
There were two scenes in the movie that really stood out. One was when Rockwell’s character, C.P Ellis, was caring for his disabled son. It made one feel really bad for what he was going through and the struggles he had to go through not just on a financial level, but on an emotional/mental perspective. The other scene was when during the charrette meetings, one of the members had to lay the facts to Rockwell on how black children have more problems in life than do white children. These scenes offered were the best and I wish the movie would have had more of them.
The dialogue was a mix of either being good or cliche. As I mentioned there were some funny moments, particularly in the Rockwell and Henson scenes when the two were together. Other times it can be uninspired or uninteresting.
The pacing was also a mix of good or bad. There were scenes where things go a bit fast. There are a few slow moments which the movie needed more of.
I guess the biggest problem I have with the movie was that it had an uneven narrative or unfocused plot. Now the film was focusing on the process of desegregating a public school and the journey of how Rockwell changed perspectives on race. It seemed the focus was more on the latter and the other was put in the background. The movie came off more as a C.P Ellis story. Now granted his journey from beginning to end was fine, but it didn’t need to take center stage while the charrette meetings were put to the side. There were times when those meetings are sped and not enough time was spent on them. While the Rockwell scenes were given an unnecessary fine amount of time. Also, there was Henson’s story which didn’t get delved into at all. I mean one knew what she wanted and why she wanted it, but the movie doesn’t reveal enough of her life to make one latch onto her as opposed to Rockwell. The movie revealed that she has a daughter, but one won’t remember her by the end due to the focus not being on her but rather on Rockwell.
Another problem I have was that the movie at times can be formulaic and be Hollywood-ish. A prime example was when Rockwell made the big speech at the end in front of lots of people and tore his KKK card. Though even with a predictable plot, it did warrant some interest in how certain characters went from point A to B. But then again, that journey was a bit long and was getting a little boring. The run-time didn’t need to be over 2 hrs.
This wasn’t a bad movie by any chance. It was just average in my eyes. The performances were good, the chemistry between the two leads was enjoyable, and it did deliver some emotional/heartfelt moments. But if the movie were to balance out the subplots and different narratives that were being presented, I think it would have turned out good.