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son of the south

★★★

director: Barry Alexander Brown (last looks)

starring: lucas till, lex scott davis, lucy hale and julia ormond

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

A grandson of a Klansman comes of age in the deep south and eventually joins the Civil Rights Movement.

Executive produced by Spike Lee, Son of The South is based on Bob Zellner's autobiography "The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement.” During the sixties civil rights movement, Bob Zellner (Lucas Till), a Klansman's grandson, is forced to face the rampant racism of his own culture. Defying his family and white Southern norms, he embraces the fight against social injustice, repression and violence to change the world he was born into. 

 

Structurally Son of the South falls into a familiar narrative structure that the vast majority of biopics adopt. Beginning in the present with Zellner about to be hanged by white racists for siding with the civil rights movement, the film then flashes back to the beginning of Zellner’s introduction to that movement. 

 

It's a deft touch from the film makers as it illustrates from the off just how brutal white people were to members of their own race who had joined the other ‘side’. With each decision that Zellner makes for the civil rights cause, lurking in the back of our mind is the consequence, him being fitted with a noose around his neck, that we know that he will face. 

 

Although Son of the South has a white protagonist front and centre, it never deviates across the line towards a white saviour narrative. Instead, Son of the South documents the moral awakening of a young man and the lengths to which he was willing to go to see those beliefs through. 

 

While Son of the South tells a very necessary and needed tale for our times, about the cost of being a real ally to the civil rights movement, the film is filled with quite a number of scenes of pure exposition which could have been streamlined for a more cohesive plot.

 

Although Son of the South can be slow at times, the story is a powerful and needed tale for the times that we are living in.

★★★