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Film Review: Race

Dwight Brown | 2/23/2016, 12:56 p.m.
“On the track, there is no Black and White, just fast and slow. For those 10 seconds you are free,” ...
Stephan James stars in “Race.” (Focus Features)

— Stephan James, who played civil rights leader John Lewis in Selma, brings a duality to his measured interpretation of Jesse Owens: He’s confident, without being self-centered; vulnerable without being weak. It’s an attractive quality for a protagonist, one that makes you like Owens even more. Jason Sudeikis is also successful at building the Snyder character who is a know-it-all at first, then willing to learn from his student. For a comedian attempting a dramatic role, he’s okay. The two actors feed off each other, making the transition, from “coach teaching student” to “student teaching coach” life lessons, believable. Owens to Snyder: “You stick with me and I’ll make a great coach out of you.” Irons and Hurt make the officials look stiff and calculating. Shanice Banton as Owens sweetheart/wife displays a sweetness that’s infectious.

Though the direction, script and acting are steady, they are out-shined by two elements: The first is the spirit of Jesse Owens, which makes watching him win races against tremendous odds a joy, even though you already know he will lead the pack. Secondly, the attention to social issues and civil rights problems, which were prevalent back in the day and remain so today, is admirable.

Race deserves a lot of credit for not whitewashing history.

Read more movie reviews by Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com.