This stirring and impassioned biopic of Martin Luther King Jr (David Oyewolo) is mesmerising.

It doesn’t take a cradle-to-grave approach to its subject, but 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.

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.