I have come to realize that many of the “best” film experiences come from a pure place. Meaning you go in with little knowledge and have not read any reviews or social media type opinions. In other words, go in blind and just fall into the movie experience or story. It might seem counterproductive for me to state that it is best if you don’t read reviews before watching a film….but that does not mean to never read reviews. You can do so afterwards to gain new insight or viewpoints or see if you agree or disagree with the reviewers take on the film.
Son of the South was that type of film for me. I knew nothing about it. Only was familiar with a couple of the actors in it. Knew nothing about the very timely story contained within. Which is a crime as it is based on a true story of which I knew nothing about. Director/screenwriter Barry Alexander Brown (Last Looks, Lonely in America) has used the source material of Bob Zellner’s autobiography “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek” base his film on. Has adjoined himself with the clout of Spike Lee as his executive producer.
Now, if I had read most of the early reviews on the film it might have clouded my judgement about it. Most are not too flattering. For a variety of reasons. I am hear to tell you they are being harsh. While this is in no way a knock you out of your seat type film, it is an eye opening one with a story concerned with race relations and social justice that we all need to see. Especially in today’s world where these issues are of vital importance.
1961 Montgomery, Mississippi. A time (much like our own) of racial unrest. Bob Zellner (Lucas Till – X-Men: First Class, Stoker) and a few of his friends, all in their senior year at college, are attempting to write a paper on race relations. Due to the heightened tensions the five white young men get caught up in it up to their necks after attending what is labelled as a black event. They innocently just want to interview Rosa Parks (Sharonne Lanier – appeared in episodes of The Resident and Army Wives). All bow out once the push back comes in the threat of being expelled from college. All except Bob. He continues on doing what he believes to be right.
While this is told from another perspective, it is a film which covers a lot of the same territory as the film Selma or the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble. And definitely not as well as those films, but Son of the South is still not a complete write off. Yes, there are issues with the editing and the pacing of the film which make watching it a little awkward at times, but at the heart it is a story which adds to the picture of what went on then. Lead actor Lucas Till does a good job bringing Bob Zellner to life.
Plenty of necessary messages are gone over here. How one person can set out to make a difference. That on each side of a story there are nuances. Not everything is black and white (sorry for the pun) when humans are involved. That a person cannot be judged based on the colour of their skin, the family they grew up in and their background. That people can work together. Stories like this need to be told. Come out into the light. Justice can come if enough of us aim to work together.