‘Black Or White:’ Kevin Costner’s Contemporary Look at Race Relations in America

Author: Bill Dudley

Primarily known for his iconic films Bull DurhamThe UntouchablesField Of Dreams, Dances with Wolves, Wyatt Erp and the unforgettable The Bodyguard  with the late Whitney Houston, Kevin Costner is entering a new phase of his career.

Last year he produced and starred in the excellent TV miniseries Hatfields & Mc Coys, winning 3 major awards including an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a SAG Award. Costner seems most comfortable in Westerns and baseball films, but his next film is an urban drama based on race relations. Costner financed this film himself, and it took several years to come together.

Academy Award winning actress Octavia Spencer joins Costner in a thought provoking plot that pulls no punches. Costner becomes a widower in the very first dramatic scene of “Black Or White.

Being very well off financially, Costner and his wife were raising their young black grand-daughter (Eloise), due to the previous death of their own daughter. Costner blames the daughter’s husband (Anthony Mackie) for her death. Octavia plays the grandmother from the other side of the family, and challenges Costner for the custody of the child. Costner’s character is an alcoholic, but the child’s father (who also seeks custody), is a drug addict, and extremely irresponsible.

Is race one of the things that brings friction to this battle?

Pre-conceived notions are thoroughly explored on both sides of the family. I don’t want to tell you  anymore, as Black Or White explores the depth of prejudice like no other film I have ever seen recently. It treats all the characters fairly, and we clearly see the good and the bad in all of them. Director Mike Binder carefully crafts this deep case study, as he also wrote the screenplay.

Costner and Octavia always give sound performances, but keep your eye on Anthony Mackie as the little girl’s father, he gives a stirring performance, as does young Jillian Estell as Eloise.

See the film’s trailer above.

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