review by Bobby Blakey
Chadwick Boseman has already made a name for himself with some great performances in films like 42, Get On Up and most notably his turn as T’Challa aka The Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now he is taking on yet another iconic historical figure Thurgood Marshall in his latest film Marshall co-starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, and James Cromwell with director Reginald Hudlin at the helm, but does it do this iconic man justice or will it be a case they just can’t win.
Marshall follows the true story of Thurgood Marshall during his greatest challenge in those early days of his career– a fight he fought alongside attorney Sam Friedman, a young lawyer with no experience in criminal law: the case of black chauffeur Joseph Spell, accused by his white employer, Eleanor Strubing, of sexual assault and attempted murder. Films like this always concern me going in because there is a thin line to walk to make it either work, not impactful enough or over the top. Anyone that knows the history of the iconic Thurgood Marshall knows he was at the forefront of a lot of controversial moments in history. This story takes on one of his earliest cases and one that changed the fight for the NAACP in a big way. It is no surprise that both Boseman and Gad are both excellent here and have great chemistry as these polar opposite people. Their relationship and banter offers up some powerful moments as well as some light hearted laughs.
Dealing with this subject matter you don’t expect it to be a funny affair, but this film finds an excellent balance between the drama and humor throughout to deliver a film that is both powerful and entertaining. Boseman plays Marshall with a swagger and confidence that you can only imagine is spot on given everything he accomplished. Gad does just the opposite with bringing his bumbling yet capable lawyer and complete opposite which offers the perfect balance for the two to work together and grow. The story is powerful throughout and does a great job at balancing the racial tension and focus on the case. While these two things go hand in hand it is important for you to feel that uncomfortableness to fully understand the struggles they were fighting against.
I really loved this movie for its perfect balance of everything that was important to this history. They didn’t play it safe, but also didn’t try to force the hate to sell it more than it needed to be. The racial injustices of the time were a travesty enough and seeing someone like Marshall not only fight against them, but also treat some of the segregation aspects with ridicule makes it fully impactful. This is a movie that everyone should see if for no other reason than the history itself and during this troubling time in the world it is a film that is perfectly timed and relevant.