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In a League of Their Own: A TIFF Review of ‘One Night in Miami…’

September 10, 2020Ben MK

Best known for her starring role as Sister Night in HBO's critically acclaimed Watchmen series, Regina King is someone who knows the value of hard work and perseverance. Now, after a movie and television career spanning three decades, the award-winning actress is making her directorial debut with One Night in Miami..., a story about the 1960s civil rights movement and how racial injustice spurred four very different, but very similar, men to each take action in their own way.

The year is 1964, the night of Cassius Clay's championship win over Sonny Liston. Little did the man soon to be known as Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree) realize, however, that when he, NFL Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and singing sensation Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) walked into a Miami hotel room after the fight, it wouldn't be for a post-victory celebration. Instead, they were there to meet with Clay's friend, civil rights leader Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir). And although no one can really claim to know exactly what transpired that night, the film uses this extraordinary real-life meeting to show viewers what might have been, as these four men — each shouldering their own unique burdens — come to grips with their place in the world and how to best move forward.

Bolstered by impressive performances from all four leads, what follows is compelling in every regard — an ensemble drama that not only recounts a turbulent period in American history and how it impacted these African American icons, but also serves as a reminder of how long the fight for racial equality has been raging.

One Night in Miami... screens under the Gala Presentations programme at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 54 min.

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