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As our narrator, Tish speaks in both curt statements and koans, Barry Jenkins’ screenplay translating James Baldwin’s novel as an oneiric bit of voyeurism: When the two finally consummate their relationship after a lifetime (barely two decades) of friendship between them and their families, the mood is divine and revelatory. The couple’s story is simple and not: A cop (Ed Skrein) with a petty score to settle against Fonny connives a Puerto Rican woman (Emily Rios) who was raped to pick Fonny out of a lineup, even though his alibi and all evidence suggests otherwise.
Lee shook himself out of his brief academic torpor with 2015’s Chi-Raq, a wildly unfocused but deeply passionate movie, and he evolves further here, his outrage and sadness seeping out of every frame.
With the help of Merlin the wizard, Arthur the new king leaves his ego behind, finds compromise to bring his enemies together at the round table, and fights the common enemy to heal the country as a whole.
Cornish follows this narrative closely, while applying it to a contemporary middle-school adventure full of witty meta humor and adorably dorky but brave protagonists, with a side of heartfelt sociopolitical alarm bells about the kind of world we’re setting up for our young ones.
She’s aided by her friend, Jack Hock (Grant), a bon vivant bordering on sociopathic in his disregard for the severity of Lee’s circumstances.
Watching Mc Carthy in grouch mode is entrancing, not the least because she’s so good at nodding to Lee’s innermost insecurities without ever showing them.
In true pre-2017 MCU fashion, Cornish creates such lovable heroes that the lack of original villains becomes an afterthought.