Nothing is as simple as black or white.
That’s the main argument presented in Mike Binder’s Black or White, released on Friday. The film tells the story of grieving widower, Elliot Anderson (Kevin Costner), who finds himself a custody battle for his granddaughter, Eloise (Jillian Estell) with her paternal grandmother, Rowena Jeffers (Octavia Spencer). Both families are just trying to do what’s best for Eloise but are forced to face true feelings about race and forgiveness.
What Black or White has going for it is a powerful story and a great cast to boot. However, for as fairly simple a plot line as it has, the film seemed a bit too long and tended to drag out. Also, most of the events that occurred in the film were predictable. For example, there’s a scene where Eloise’s deadbeat father drops by Elliot’s office asking for money and, in exchange, he says he’ll go away and never come back. Elliot doesn’t agree at first but gives him a check for $25,000 later on and, surprise, Eloise’s father turns that into a bribery claim during the custody hearing in order to help his family’s cause.
In the film’s climax – and, perhaps, strangest scene – Eloise’s father shows up at Elliot’s home one night, visibly high on drugs, and gets into a fight with a very drunk Elliot that turns physical. The father hits Elliot on the head with a coffee mug and proceeds to go inside Elliot’s home to take Eloise. Elliot falls into the pool and gets trapped in the tarp covering it. Who saves him from drowning? Eloise’s father who had some kind of epiphany in five minutes and felt sorry for what he did.
Black or White has a lot going for it but, it just never reached its full potential. It didn’t have that wow factor I look for in films. I did think, however, that Binder addressed the topic of race in a smart way throughout the film.
I Give It A: C+
Check Out The Trailer Here
As a side note, don’t be fooled by Black or White‘s PG-13 rating. According to IMDb, the film was rated R but was bumped down to PG-13. I’m not sure how it was bumped down to PG-13 given its mature themes, violence and strong language (including several instances of “G–d-mn” and one instance of “Motherf—er”).