Amazing Grace (2006, Michael Apted)

Movie 2 of the Key Sunday Cinema Club. Hated it, skipped the post-movie discussion to sneak into the oscar shorts. Thanks anyway, Katy! Not your fault.

Opens right up with a big damned heavyhanded metaphor, where our boy Wilberforce (his real name, haha, and played by Mr. Fantastic!) stops some white brutes from kicking their black horse out in the rain. Some poignant shit right there. Then a whole movie about racism with only one black person in it follows.

The one black person is Youssou N’Dour in his English feature film debut. We’ve discussed Wilberforce (heh) being Mr. Fantastic (double-heh) and let’s see what else is going on. The young Prime Minister is played by Benedict Cumberbatch (pffffhahaha) who once played Stephen Hawking in a TV movie. Wilberforce eventually marries young Romola Garai (from Vanity Fair and Scoop). In the parliament we’ve got Michael Gambon as a good guy and a very familiar looking Ciaran Hinds and the dude from Infamous as bad guys, and off on his own is Wilberforce’s mentor, a cataract-ridden saintly monkly fella who used to own a slave ship, played by our Albert Finney. Oh wait, and Rufus Sewell plays a leftist with scarecrow-hair who pals around with N’Dour and tries to get Wilderforce to go abolish slavery, which he eventually does, the end.

A very bad script where everyone speaks only in cliches, from the writer of Dirty Pretty Things, which I’ll have to not see. I didn’t know much about Michael Apted before, and I’ll have to not find out more. I’d been trying to forget this, but Terrence Malick produced. There were seven producers, so it’s not a major blow.

Good performances and costume details ignored the silliness of the whole thing. It’s not the absence of black people that bugs me much, since after all, it’s a historical drama that takes place in british parliament. It’s just the extreme fakiness of it all, wilbur making himself physically sick and turning to god and admiring spiderwebs, the way-easy love affair, the bagpipe coda… but I mostly can’t get past the cornbread dialogue. It’s impossible to overstate this: every line is a cliche. IMDB shows that church groups have been getting prerelease screenings, and from the comments, they seem to be eating it up.