Reviewed by: Hannah NeCamp
death of a young child’s parent
difficulties of a grieving widower and father
court custody battles over children
fathers who are bad (or absent) parents—involved with drugs, crack houses, robbery, and violence
importance of having good family values
What is sin?
overcoming animosity toward others
forgiveness and understanding
families confronting their true feelings about race
What things should be considered in raising a mixed race child?
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
|Featuring:||Kevin Costner … Elliot Anderson
Octavia Spencer … Rowena
Anthony Mackie … Jeremiah
Jillian Estell … Eloise
André Holland (Andre Holland) … Reggie
|Director:||Mike Binder—“Upside of Anger” (2005)|
Movies are powerful; that’s why we’re drawn to them. They can make us laugh, can make us cry, can make us think… and sometimes think very hard. “Black or White” will make you think about some very big things. What is a family? What is a home? What is Black? What is White? What is human? What is love? Especially in this season of ramped up racial tensions, and this era of shattered homes and families, these are questions that we need to think about and think about deeply.
“Black or White” is a compelling story for our day, a deeply sorrowful tale of loss and brokenness, that we see from two sides. Elliot Anderson (Kevin Costner) is a man acquainted with much grief. He has lost his daughter, and now he has lost his wife. He is left alone to continue raising his biracial granddaughter, little Eloise. Or is he? Her father’s side of the family is African-American with a very different view on how little Eloise should be raised. The African-American grandmother, Rowena (Octavia Spencer) takes Elliot to court; they are going to fight for custody of Eloise.
We gather from the title that this film examines racial prejudice, what it is, and what it is not, according to the writer. I would like to warn you that the n-word is mentioned several times. It is used in anger and later is acknowledged as an ugly and hateful word. Elliot uses it several times while on the stand in court, one on the most powerful scenes in this film—although marred by an inappropriate reference. He gives a very insightful picture of what racism really is—and what it is not. I’d like to hear it again, maybe several agains. That point alone is worth the price of admission.
There are a lot of stereotypes in this movie, some of them confirmed and some of them shattered. There’s a bit of irony, as well. Elliot condemns Eloise’s father, Reggie, for being a man under addiction, but he cannot see his own addiction to alcohol.
The acting in this film is tremendous. Kevin Costner does a fantastic job of portraying the broken, grieving, and alcoholic grandfather. Octavia Spencer always makes me laugh; she’s a terrific grandmother.
One of the more powerful points made in this movie, is the fact that children need good and stable families. God made children precious; they’re worth the fight. They need homes that are healthy, not centers of addiction, if they are going to succeed in this world. Children need good examples to follow. This starts in our homes.
I should warn you that bad language is scattered throughout this film. I counted 12 times that the Lord’s name is used in vain (including “Jesus,” “G*d-d*mn”), “mother-f***er,” “d*mn” (12), “hell” (10+), “sh*t” (15+), “b*llsh*t” (5), “n*gger” (5), and “cr*p.” Other vulgar words include SOB, “b*ll s*ck,” “a**,” “a**-hole,” “f*nny” and “d*ck”.
Then there is the substance abuse throughout. Elliot drinks almost constantly. Eloise’s father, Reggie is a known “druggie”. He is also shown smoking several times. There are multiple references to crack and drugs in general. There is immodesty; Elliot is seen several times in boxer shorts. There are short skirts on women, girls in bathing suits, tight and revealing clothing. There is reference to a woman’s breasts. One of Rowena’s daughters is Gay. Eloise’s parents were not married, when they had Eloise. There is a scary scene with a knife.
Overall, I would say that this is a good story to watch, but it is NOT for little ones or people who want mindless entertainment. In the words of my very wise father, don’t get the answers from the movie, that’s what the Bible’s for. This is a good story that could be the start of some important conversations.
Violence: Mild to moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.