Regina King came out guns blazing with her directorial debut, One Night in Miami, based on the play by the same name. Written by Kemp Powers (who also wrote the stage play), One Night in Miami follows a fictitious meeting between Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Muhammed Ali (Eli Goree), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) on the night of February 25, 1964, where each man discusses the tumultuous times they are in, and their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
Not since Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men have I watched a film that was so captivating while taking place, almost exclusively, in one room. Regina King, with the help of Kemp Powers’ script, keeps tensions high and keeps the viewer interested, using perfect framing for each scene and incorporating a rich color palette.
Each man discusses the social climate of their day, and how they each feel responsibility moving forward to use their celebrity, their influence, to help their people. We soon see that each man contributed in different ways, some louder than others and some more behind the scenes. The dynamic between these characters is only heightened by the social struggles going on just beyond the door to the hotel room. There’s a sense of urgency.
I cannot praise the actors in this film enough. Everybody did a tremendous job, but the main four, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr., all played off each other so well. They each played their character (all real life people) with respect, poise, and dignity.
If you have the option to watch One Night in Miami on Amazon Prime, please do so. You won’t regret it. The film is captivating in a way that very few films are. And the ending left me absolutely speechless.