the best of enemies
director: robin bissell (debut)
starring: taraji p. henson, sam rockwell, anne heche, and wes bentley
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Civil rights activist Ann Atwater faces off against C.P. Ellis, Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1971 Durham, North Carolina over the issue of school integration.
Best picture winning Green Book was described as being to simple in its approach to solving racism and racial tension. ‘It’s not that simple’ people would scold ‘its alot more complex than that.’ Sure, racism is a lot more complex and there are many societal structures that contribute to it. But kindness is a good place to start. And we see that fully on display in the true story, The Best of Enemies.
The true story of the unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater, an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, a local Ku Klux Klan leader. During the racially charged summer of 1971, Atwater and Ellis come together to co-chair a community summit on the desegregation of schools in Durham, N.C. The ensuing debate and battle soon lead to surprising revelations that change both of their lives forever.
It grieves me to know that The Best of Enemies didn’t get a theatrical release in New Zealand but was quietly released onto home entertainment. Which is a crying shame because its a terrific, thought provoking, necessary film. The way in which the hatred between Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis slowly dissipates is breathtaking and shows that kindness, love, and compassion really can change the most hardened of hearts.
As expected Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell (who is in danger of being type cast as the redneck racist) are phenomenal and fool us the audience in believing that we've encountered the real living breathing people The Best of Enemies is based on.
The Best of Enemies is a testament to the power of kindness, compassion, and love to change the most hardened of hearts.