One Night in Miami is a drama film directed by Regina King from a screenplay by Kemp Powers based on his play of the same name. The film stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr. in lead roles.
When Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay met on the ring on February 25, 1964, for the title of the boxing Heavyweight Championship, history was made. It’s one of those fights that stay with you till the end and it pushed Clay to the precipice of familiarity and fame. However, if you’re someone who’d want to watch what might have happened before and after that fight, and how Clay, who came to be known as Muhammad Ali later on, hung out with his equally famous friends, then this might be just the movie for you.
One Night in Miami follows Clay, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X, four friends who get together to hang out with each other. The fictitious account of what might have happened before and after that fated fight is brought to screen by director Regina King, who provides a heartwarming account of it with the help of Powers.
One Night in Miami provides a simple yet beautiful description of a friendship between four Black men, and how their attitudes are different when it comes to people of their own race and those of white people. When in the company of fellow Black people, all four of them are more laid back and chilled out and crack jokes and have healthy debates. However, their attitude changes and they are different people outside of this comfort zone, where they constantly have to be on their toes to “keep the peace”.
All four of them are very different individuals with different attitudes and habits. But it’s great to watch them come together and have honest conversations with each other. It’s riveting to see how these people might have engaged with one other – an openness and honesty that is only possible when not in the company of their white counterparts. It’s fun and engaging to watch and has its moments of joy and drama.
Principle actors including Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr. are great and carry this film on their backs. Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X brings forth his sharp wit and determination to the forefront. Malcolm was a human rights activist and thus Kingsley had to portray a smart and fast talker, which he does with grace. He also very subtly brings forth his concerns and confusions regarding the Nation of Islam, and we all know how that chapter turned out in real life.
Eli Goree as Cassius Clay is great as well and is funny and electrifying as his character. He has to bear a major portion of the film, and he does so with finesse. It’s fun to watch him on-screen and his faith and determination to convert to Islam are also worth noting. On the other hand, Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown brings to screen the power and confidence of the reigning football champion. However, his character has a certain vulnerability to it that is quite nice to watch.
Lastly, Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke is probably the star of the show. I remember watching him in Hamilton and I was absolutely mesmerised by his performance. Here, too, he portrays Cooke with so much passion that it is hard to not take notice. Cooke was one of the biggest musicians of that era, and the way Odom Jr. portrays him, putting every bit of his soul to the songs even when he’s singing to himself, is absolutely beautiful and soul-touching. Other than the songs, his difficulties and problems are also quite a treat to watch.
Summing up: One Night in Miami
One Night in Miami shines for its cast and for the entertaining conversations that these four greats have among themselves. It’s entertaining and heart-touching and doesn’t bore you one bit. And with actors like these, you can see how comfortable they are with each other to portray friends just having a good time.
One Night in Miami is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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