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One Night in Miami
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Review Roundup: Regina King's ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, with Leslie Odom Jr. & More!

Check out what the critics had to say!

Regina King's directorial debut One Night In Miami, just premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The film is an adaptation of the Olivier-nominated stage play by Kemp Powers.

Set on the night of February 25, 1964, the drama follows the brash young Cassius Clay after he shocked the world by knocking out seemingly invincible Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion. While crowds of people swarm Miami Beach to celebrate the match, Clay - unable to stay on the island because of Jim Crow-era segregation laws - spends the evening at the Hampton House Motel in Miami's African American Overtown neighborhood celebrating with three of his closest friends: Malcolm X, Sam Cooke (played by Tony winner Leslie Odom, Jr.), and Jim Brown.

The play was originally staged in 2013, taking an actual event and imagining what transpired between them as their friendship, successes and shared struggles fueled their paths to becoming galvanizing figures of their era.

Check out what the critics had to say...

Owen Gleiberman, Variety: Where the film comes together, and holds you as a structured piece of drama, is in the theme that surges throughout it but is given a name only at the end: "Black power." In 1964, that phrase was just coming into its own, and "One Night in Miami" is set at the paradigm shift of a moment when Black power was a consciousness that emerged, in part, from how figures like these four were rising in the culture, becoming influential stars in it, challenging it and changing it and maybe, in the process, revolutionizing it. Revolution was in the air, yet only Malcolm X had named it that. "One Night in Miami" is a casually entrancing debate about power on the part of those who have won it but are still figuring out what to do with it.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: To some extent, One Night in Miami remains high-quality filmed theater. But the conviction and stirring feeling brought to it elevate the material, making this an auspicious feature debut. Here's hoping that King, one of our most consistently excellent screen actors, continues to spread her wings in this direction.

Kate Erbland, IndieWire: "One Night in Miami" (and both King and Powers) exhibits great affection for its central characters, but it never feels like a hagiographic exercise. That bent extends to not just the more pointed of revelations that unfold in its second half, the more biting of conversations that rage through the foursome, but in the film's more easy-going first act. Swaggering Cassius can't resist a mirror (or a boisterous admission of his own handsomeness), Sam doesn't make any bones about perking up at the mention of ladies, and a sequence in which Malcolm's idea of a good time (lots of self-reflection and two boxes of vanilla ice cream) is a constant source of amusement to his more party-hungry pals.

Nicholas Barber, BBC: Quite apart from the single-location set-up, One Night in Miami is undeniably stagey, from the freshly ironed costumes to the slow and steady camerawork to the on-the-nose dialogue. The script (adapted by Powers from his play) is essentially a series of unsubtle debates that tick off the issues in turn rather than flowing like a natural conversation. It's hard to believe that the evening was quite as sober, in all senses of the word, as the symposium presented here. And the film does its subjects a disservice by not allowing them a little more zest and irreverence.

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: For a first-timer to tackle a period piece featuring four cultural legends would be impressive enough, more so when said period piece is based on a four-guys-in-a room play that the screen adaptation livens up with musical performance, boxing sequences and massive crowd scenes. King doesn't just take on these challenges; she succeeds at turning a property with a number of potential wrong turns into a vibrant historical tale tackling issues and controversies that remain tragically relevant nearly 60 years later.

Kevin Maher, The Times: The film imagines the high-stakes histrionics that might have occurred when the black American icons Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Jim Brown met in a Miami hotel room on the night of February 25, 1964 to celebrate Clay's victory over Sonny Liston. Initial bonds (the foursome are well acquainted) are tested, arguments erupt and violence is threatened before calm and purpose is restored

Jonathan Romney, The Guardian: King, cinematographer Tami Reiker and designer Barry Robison mount a vivid, meticulous evocation of the period, with locales including poolsides, sports stadiums and the venues where Cooke sings. But the film is above all an enclosed talking piece for four terrific actors. Perhaps inevitably, Goree's Clay lights up the screen whenever he talks - revealing the acuteness and sensitivity beneath the showmanship - with Hodge's Brown as a saturnine, sceptical foil. But the meat of the meet lies in the interplay between Malcolm X and Sam Cooke - not least, perhaps, because we know their deaths were just around the corner.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast: The conversations are candid and the men convincingly vulnerable. Powers pits Malcolm X against Cooke for "selling out" to white people, giving Cooke the opportunity to explain it from his perspective-in the end, both men see eye to eye. The night lingers on and wafts into a very deep conversation between Brown and Malcolm X about colorism, with Brown coaxing tears out of Malcolm X for his insecurity about "not being Black enough." (Just a few days later, Malcolm X would be assassinated, and his mounting paranoia about his fate is palpable).


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