Luce (2019) A Review

A Psychological Thriller of a different kind, with a somewhat lacklustre ending. 


DIRECTOR: Julius Onah

STARRING: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Tim Roth

SCREENPLAY: J.C. Lee (play), J.C. Lee

GENRE: Drama

RUNTIME: 109 Minutes

★★★ 3.5 Stars

The trailer for this film is what sold it for me.  It appeared to me to be a psychological thriller set in an American high school, centred around the relationship between a Black student and his teacher.  And I wasn’t exactly wrong…but I wasn’t exactly right either.

So Luce is a young Black student, praised by all his teachers and in line to be class valedictorian.    But one of his teachers is worried that he is involved in some illegal activity and gets his parents involved.  As the web of lies gets more tangled and the tension rises, we start to find that we don’t know who to believe.

So lets start by talking about the spectacular performances of all the actors.  There are some really seasoned actors and actresses in this film, and they of course give the kind of performances tat you would expect of some of these household names.  However, what Is amazing is that the breakout performances by virtually unknown actors are just as good.   Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s performance as Luce was truly spectacular and it is his amazing portrayal of the character is what makes the whole thing work.  The whole reveal at the end would never work if his performance wasn’t as excellent as it was.

Now we need to talk about the ending.  But to that we need to look at the pacing of the whole film.  So it is a very VERY slow build, as all psychological thrillers are.  And you can feel the film building towards a huge climax…and was is the most disappointing thing is that I don’t feel like that amazing climax ever really arrives. It was quite unclear at the end what the scheme actually was or what the motivations were, and for me, that is the most important thing in a psychological thriller.  Instead I felt unsatisfied.  Not a good feeling for the end of a thriller.

Not the best thriller I have seen so far this year and not one that I will remember in a few weeks from now.  Enjoyable to watch once, but not one I will be returning too. 

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