Black or White hits theaters today and we had a chance to view the family drama that demonstrates the fact that love knows no color.
The film followed the story of a little mixed girl whose mother died in childbirth and was raised by her white grandparents. When the film begins, we learn that Kevin Costner’s character has been widowed and he must now deal with raising little Eloise all on his own…until Octavia Spencer’s Rowena (lovingly called ‘Grandma Wee-Wee’) enters the picture. From there the movie takes a look at race relations when two families who probably never would have crossed paths are brought together by unfortunate circumstances. Custody battles, a deadbeat dad, a racial slur and addiction issues are all tackled in the film as the two families struggle to come together, but the one thing that no one can debate is how much both sides love their little Eloise.
The movie itself was a good conversation starter. It explored the differences in families from different backgrounds and demonstrated that although some adversity may have to be overcome, mutual ground can indeed be reached if both parties are committed enough to positive results. It also did a good job of showing issues that a white family may have in raising a black child (look out for the short, but funny scene when Kevin Costner is trying to figure out how to comb his granddaughter’s hair) as well as a man trying to cope with the absence of a female figure while raising a little girl. Although it was a little disappointing that Eloise’s father was a stereotypical black father figure, even that issue is addressed head-on. The one issue I had, which may not have even been an issue for some, was the pet name ‘Puppy’ that Kevin Costner’s Elliot had for his granddaughter. I understand cute pet names, but when your kid actually barks back at you, you’re tap-dancing on the cute/creepy line.
Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer offered heartfelt performances as Eloise’s grandparents. Kevin did a fine job as the grumpy, yet loveable grandfather with issues who was just trying to figure out the best way to handle his new life. Octavia’s loud and straightforward Grandma Wee-Wee made me feel like I was watching some of my own family members on-screen because we all have those relatives who are so straightforward and in-your-face that you can’t help but love them for it. Anthony Mackie also starred in the film as Jeremiah, Rowena’s brother and lawyer, but the role that left audiences cracking up every time was Mpho Koaho’s Duvan, Eloise’s math tutor and paper-writer extraordinaire.
Overall, the film was a decent look into the lives of mixed-race children, who are often overlooked in cinema. It does a good job portraying the difficulties both races face in becoming the village needed to raise the child. Although the movie had a mostly somber tone, there were scenes and characters interspersed throughout to lighten up the mood. The timing of the film’s release, a month after Selma’s, contributes to the race conversations that our country needs to have following the recent heated events that have been dominating the news since 2014. Black or White is a solid movie to watch, regardless of race.
Black or White is now playing in theaters.