An inspirational film about the mid-60's, I was prepared to love it. Instead, I liked it. Gossett was superb, and Devane was solid. Sanders and Holly put in decent performances as well.Leaders are not chosen, they are called. Inspired by a true story.
Arrested in the 1965 Watts riots, Richard Kelly (Cedric Sanders) must serve probation at an all-white seminary. Although encouraged to break racial boundaries by its president Alan Beckett (William Devane), the school wants black followers not leaders. Even former missionary, Kate Allison (Lauren Holly), initially rejects Richard. A prison sentence looming, Richard meets Samuel Benton (Louis Gossett, Jr.) -- “the gardener in the basement.” As Samuel guides Richard through his many trials, Richard must choose between his dreams and his destiny.
I think it was parts of the storyline that just got to me, though. I got the impression from the bonus feature interview with Marks (the inspiration behind this story) that the plot was loosely based on his reality. And parts were just too predictable. When Richard is called in to see the school president, a minute or so into the conversation I said, "He wants a Jackie Robinson." Sure enough, who is brought up but Robinson. In another scene, I said, "Sounds like Dietrich Boenhoffer," and within moments the characters were talking about Boenhoffer.
It's not just the examples like that though, it's the whole plot. I don't know -- just lots of moments where a little less talking, or a little more quiet strength would have turned a good flick into something really grand.
I'm glad I watched it. It will be nice to be able to pull off the shelf when my teens are learning about the Civil Rights movement of the 60's. But this is not a movie that will make my 'must see' list. And I would not recommend this for general family viewing unless you watch it first, as it is rated PG-13.
I understand this is the first major production by director and screenwriter Mark Young. As such, he did a credible job and I do look forward to seeing more from him.