Luce ★★★★

Luce is one of those intriguing character-driven dramas where very little happens, yet it feels as though everything remotely plausible has managed to come to a head. 

in a world where black men are expected to conform to either of two stereotypes — to be Obama-like or be “armed” — Luce is a sterling contradiction that black people can be neither, or both. it’s written with such care that the way it handles its themes feels almost theatrical. there’s something satisfying about the way the film leads you on, and then pulls the rug out from under you, enslaving you to its melodramatic ambition. 

Onah expertly stacks mystery upon mystery, yet it never feels forced. all the actors are able to rise to the occasion, with Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts giving performances that are unsurprising, because they hardly ever disappoint. but Kelvin Harrison Jr. does something in this leading role that washed me of any sense of doubt that he might be one of the best young actors working today. in everything i’ve seen him in — though not much — he’s able to show just how much of a camouflage he is, bending and twisting to the demands of whatever role he’s playing. 

deeply affecting, though slightly heavy-handed at times, Luce is an expertly crafted thriller that lingers in your mind long after it ends. that more people did not see this film is a travesty, not only because it’s good, but because Harrison Jr. proves his worth. can’t wait to catch him in Waves!