Luce is a racially charged thriller that never quite boils over into the climax you expect, but it is intriguing – The Sun

THIS racially charged thriller never quite boils over into the climax you expect, but it is intriguing and tense enough to grip you throughout.

Adapted from his own play, screenwriter JC Lee brings this complex tale of privilege, race, bias, stereotype and the American dream to an audience in the shape of a crime thriller.

A moral whodunnit, fully intending to create one hell of a conversation on the way home from the cinema.

Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr) is a perfect student — one of those kids who gets straight As academically then wins the 100m sprint before heading home and spending the evening working on a speech.

He spent the first decade of his life in war-torn Eritrea, before being adopted by a liberally woke white couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth), keen on extolling all the smug benefits of American life on him (even if they rename him as his original name was too exhausting to pronounce).

This idyllic existence is interrupted when a fractious relationship with his history teacher, Miss Wilson (Octavia Spencer), boils over.

She is concerned about the justification of political violence in an essay. And, after finding illegal fireworks in his locker, she suspects he isn’t as Apple Pie as he seems.

This is much to the anger of his parents and the school principal, all extremely keen on maintaining his (and their) current path to greatness.

As the story weaves and develops to include suspicions of sexual violence and manipulation, we viewers are left to piece together a couple of puzzles.

Is Luce really the psychopath his teacher is suggesting and, if so, to what ends do you go to justify or even excuse these actions?

In this case, are the expectations thrown upon Luce and the inevitable responsibility to his background and friends (his pal loses a scholarship for smoking weed, while Luce’s own toking is ignored for instance) enough for us to sympathise with him?

For his parents the quandary is how far you stand by your child, even when that flies in the face of all the evidence in front of you.

I found the film extremely watchable.

The performances from Spencer and relative newcomer Harrison are fantastic, especially when they’re sparring on screen.

You will get different things from this film depending on your background and, let’s face it, ethnicity.

There are a few plot holes that puzzled me — but such is the compelling story I found myself asking questions of my own moral maze and prejudice, which I guess is the whole point.

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