Rustin | Review by: Benjamin Garrett
‘Rustin’ tells the true story of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin’s pivotal role in orchestrating the 1963 March on Washington. The film recounts a monumental chapter in Black history, and brings due attention to a largely unsung hero, but it lacks focus, making for a slightly disjointed effort.
The movie splits its time between the orchestration of the Washington March, and Rustin’s private life. Both angles are interesting, and deserving of the spotlight, but there isn’t enough time spent on either to fully draw you in. Considering the film is centred around such an iconic historic moment, it rarely feels as inspired as it should. It’s educational and relatively insightful, sure, but moments that should land with roaring celebration often come across like you’re reading them from a history textbook.
Colman Domingo is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the film, infusing so much passion and charisma into an otherwise paint-by-numbers biopic. In a movie full of excellent supporting performances, he outshines every one of them with what could be a career best turn. We get to see two sides of Rustin here, and Domingo plays that duality wonderfully. On one hand, you’ve got the charismatic activist driven to bring change to the world. This is the side the public saw, and the version of Rustin they knew. On the other hand, we’re given a peak inside his personal and romantic life, which sheds far more light on why he was so intent on fighting for equality.
Rustin is biopic 101, but that doesn’t make the true story, and the incredible man at the centre of it any less important. It doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, and fails to land with the impact its story deserves, but don’t be surprised when you hear Colman Domingo’s name mentioned come awards season.
Review by: Benjamin Garrett
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