Short version of the plot: a US police force's first black policeman, Ron Stallworth, (John David Washington*) goes undercover to investigate the local Ku Klux Klan, soon having regular phonecalls with David Duke. Since he obviously can't attend the meetings himself, his 'character' is played by a fellow cop, the white, Jewish Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Meanwhile Ron's budding romance with local black student union president, Patrice (Laura Harrier) is made somewhat awkward by her disdain for the pigs and devotion to more radical politics.
I thought it was a very good film, thoroughly deserving of its strong reviews**. The pace is a bit stately to begin with, but it gets into its stride soon enough. The script is good, the acting very good, and its very engaging, though perhaps more rewarding as an audience experience if you're watching it in (parts of) the US rather than 20 or so people in north Oxford who are worried about laughing too much. In some ways we know very little about the characters' individual rather than political motivations - we get almost no indication as to why Ron originally wanted to take the difficult action of joining the police - while at the same time the film is very good at exploring the different ways that their actions intersect with their identity, from deeply conscious political activist Patrice, via Ron's mix of the personal and professional, through to Zimmerman, "I never thought of myself as Jewish, now I'm denying it." The KKK characters are also well-depicted - often stupid, consistently vile, and sometimes comic, yes, but entirely plausible.
Have the trailer.
*Yes, Denzel Washington's son. I was going to say that I feel old now, but I've looked up his age and feel better. Apparently his father was older than I realised in Much Ado About Nothing.
**Though not the one in Al Jazeera, which considers it "reactionary" and "myopic provincialism" to make a film about racist terrorism and police violence against African-Americans and Jews in a culture that has an ongoing terrible record with police violence against African Americans and a resurgent neo-Nazi/far right terrorist movement.
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