On February 25, 1964, boxer Cassius Clay (who would take the name of Muhammad Ali) became world heavyweight champion by defeating favorite Sonny Liston. Clay and his friends, Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and footballer Jim Brown, go to celebrate in a hotel room where they reflect on their role in the black struggle for civil rights.
The substance of the story is real. The words put in the mouths of the characters are fictitious. The result is explosive. The film arrives at… named fists in the current context of Black Lives Matter.
Fists, you will see a few in the ring, but also in the room and around the discreet Hampton House Hotel in Miami where the action of this near-camera takes place. What was supposed to be an evening of festivities between four African-American icons of the time turns into a storm of feelings where it is about emancipation, equality, the role that each has to play in society.
The beautiful harmony of the start is shattered into a thousand crumbs with clashes of opinions between these four men with strong personalities. In particular between Malcolm X and Sam Cooke, to whom he accuses of stacking the success and the money by pleasing the Whites. The aftershocks are then powerful! In another clash, Clay, on the verge of adopting the Muslim faith, feels like Malcolm X used him.
Renowned actress and even Oscar winner for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk, Regina King signs here a first feature film as a director who hits the mark as much for her script (Kemp Powers) as for her artistic direction and her fiery cast.
The first part seemed to us frozen, bloodless with emotion, without much relief. The film is adapted from a play and it shows. The dialogues are a bit hollow. But then everything explodes like a big bang.
We sometimes hear the word starting with n… in the movie. Especially in one of the first scenes where a character played by Beau Bridges shows a disrespect to howl with rage towards that of Jim Brown.
On Amazon Prime.
One Night in Miami… Drama by Regina King. With Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr .. 1 h 54.