One Night in Miami – 4

The idea of four iconic Black men from disparate fields meeting in a hotel room the night of the Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight in 1964 is an intriguing conceit for a stage play, which this was, but it hasn’t been translated to the screen. This was one of the slower movies I’ve watched; it seemed to stop after every speech. I never got the reason for the rendezvous, or why Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Clay would hang out for hours in a dumpy hotel room without food, drink or women. Maybe the draw was Malcolm X, but as portrayed by Kingsley Ben-Adir he was short of charisma, a black hole at the center of the gathering. As one of the characters commented, “Which one here doesn’t belong?” Outside the hotel room, the movie added set pieces for each character that were exaggerated to the point of absurdity: Jim Brown being called the ‘n’ word by Beau Bridges; Clay being berated by Christopher from the Sopranos; Cook bombing at the Copa then singing without a mic in Boston. The intellectual discussion was just as half-baked. Tom Stoppard this was not.

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