This stirring and impassioned biopic of Martin Luther King Jr (David Oyewolo) is mesmerising.
Rather than taking a cradle-to-grave approach to its subject, it focuses instead on a single, highly charged episode in the civil rights struggle: the 1965 protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, demanding equal voting rights for America’s black citizens.
When King’s marchers meet the barbed-wire clubs and bullwhips of white cops while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the appalling mayhem is conveyed with controlled outrage and chilling clarity. But just as magnificent are the smaller-scale scenes, including those in which King locks horns with Tom Wilkinson’s recalcitrant President Lyndon B Johnson.
The stellar supporting cast (look out for Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey, among others) hardly puts a foot wrong, but it’s Brit Oyewolo who dominates the film, brilliantly conveying King’s gifts, but also his all-too-human frailties.