Luce (2019)

Luce is directed by Julius Onah, and stars Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Stephanie Bang. The movie centers on Kelvin Harrison Jr’s character, Luce. Luce is an Eritrean immigrant who was adopted by Amy and Peter Edgar, played by Naomi Watts and Tim Roth respectively. Luce is drawn into confrontations with his teacher, Octavia Spencer’s Harriet Wilson, throughout the course of the movie. The acting from the entire cast is amazing.

The relationship between Luce and Ms Wilson is fraught with tension throughout the entire movie. Luce is caught between who he was, who he wants to be, who his parents, Ms Wilson and the rest of society want him to be. Luce struggles between being himself and being the perfect student, a symbol to the African-American community. Kelvin Harrison Jr does a great job of capturing a young man whose perfect facade is about to crack, but never really does. In all of his confrontations with Ms Wilson, and his parents, you can never be sure if he is being genuine or not.

The movie often cuts just before a major plot element is about to revealed. It keeps teasing you with big secrets and duplicitous acts by Luce and Ms Wilson, but it never really feels like it pays off. There is no satisfying sense of a reveal, as toward the latter half of the movie you already have a good idea of the character’s motivations. There is one major confrontation Luce has with Ms Wilson in her apartment, but by the time this comes around, it just feels tacked on to have an out-and-out conversation about race to hammer the viewer over the head in case you didn’t already get it.