BLACK OR WHITE is the story of a grieving widower (Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner) who is suddenly left alone to care for his beloved granddaughter (Jillian Estell), a bi-racial child, who lived with him and his wife when her entire life after her mother died in childbirth.
When her paternal grandmother (Academy Award® winner Octavia Spencer) seeks custody with the help of her brother (Anthony Mackie), an attorney, the little girl is torn between two families who love her deeply.
With the best intentions at heart, both families fight for what they feel is right and are soon forced to confront their true feelings about race, forgiveness, and understanding. Anchored by an all-star cast and based on real events, the movie is a look at two seemingly different worlds, in which nothing is as simple as black or white.
BLACK OR WHITE is a timely movie that tackles head-on the problems of race relations that people are afraid to discuss especially in light of Ferguson. BLACK OR WHITE will provide a forum for people to discuss their feelings about race. Although the subject matter is serious and very dramatic, the film is kept from being morose by some very funny moments.
I think that BLACK OR WHITE is one of Kevin Costner’s best performances since his HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS ministries won him a Prime time Emmy in 2012. Although Director Mike Bender spends too much time portraying Costner’s character as a drunk, the court scenes are outstanding.
I love Octavia Spencer. I think she is a really great actress. Her character has some of the best parts in the movie. At a question and answer session after the film, Costner was questioned about his feelings about Octavia. He said that she was wonderful. She would come to the set even on days when she didn’t have scenes because she thought the movie was so important she wanted it to be perfect.
Mike Binder wrote the screenplay and directed the movie based on events in his own family. The writing was brilliant. He created so many funny moments that the film never became maudlin even though several scenes brought tears to the eyes.
Set in Los Angeles, Binder picked two neighborhoods to depict the extreme differences in the finances of two families. The Costner character lived in Santa Monica, which is very affluent and the Spencer character lived in Compton which is a low class black neighborhood.
If I was giving this movie a grade it would probably be a B minus.
The Telegraph’s contributing movie critic Mary Cox lives in Wood River and is a member of the St. Louis Film Critics Association, who also occasionally writes about film-related topics, studied film at the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked in L.A. with various directors and industry professionals. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.