There is the movie, Selma, and the significance of that story.

As a movie, it is a competent biopic of a flawed, but sincere activist at a moment in time. The script isn’t brilliant. The acting, generally, is journeyman-like, but didn’t excel. The power of all the moments was more in the events than performances, though David Oyelowo (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) did a passingly credible King.

The social significance of both the original march and the decision to produce this story now is what makes the movie truly work.

Released 50 years after the passage of the voting rights act, you would have hoped it would be a celebration of the roots of that triumph and a reminder of why it was done. Instead it was also released a year after the repeal of key provisions of that hard-won legislation and at a time when the country is becoming more divided than ever. Selma left me, contrarily, both proud and embarrassed by the capacity of this country to respond and act as well as its ability to cower and attack. It is both sides of those reminders that make this a movie worth seeing, if not a great movie on its own.


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