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The Journey of August King is a multi-dimensional drama about a North Carolina farmer in April 1815. August King, a widower, is on his way home as he does every year after selling his produce and purchasing the stock and goods he will need for the coming year. On his journey, he comes upon a run-away slave, a 17 year old young woman and August King must decide to violate the law and help this slave to freedom or leave her to be hunted down and,ultimately, returned to her slave owner. But the drama turns into a question of whether either soul will gain freedom. Written by
Joel Schesser <email@example.com>
Not wholly successful but still an enjoyable story
On his way home from selling his produce, farmer August King meets a black teenage girl escaping her cruel master. He doesn't help her but doesn't reveal her either and later she returns looking for help. He reluctantly hides her in his wagon and continues his journey. Along the way the two get to know one another better and gradually become friends.
I am a shallow, obvious man and I watched this film because I think Thandie Newton is not only a great actress but also really rather stunning! There. Cards on table! Anyway, I was interested in the title of the film and was not surprised to find that, as hinted by the title, that this is really more about a journey than the actual story. It is a little clichéd in the way that we more or less know where it is going, but it is still pretty engaging nonetheless. The story struggles a little bit to have as much meaning as it thinks it does, and too much of it is a little unsatisfactory, but it works well enough to do the job for 90 minutes. The journey is a little forced at times and doesn't always ring true but it is still worth seeing.
A big part of this working is due to the characters of August and Annalees and how they work together. I found both to be interesting and engaging even if nothing was really happening at several points. It was to be expected, but they become friends and it manages to be quite touching at several points. Most of the praise of this can be laid at the actors' feet as they make these characters and quite predictable narrative involving and enjoyable. Patric is great and gives his complex character room to grow as the film progresses - even though his character is not totally clear, he still engaged me. Newton is good even though she looks far too good to be an escaping slave. Her accent is good for the most of the film and only occasionally does she go silly with it! The support cast is not quite as good but Drake and Waterson both do OK.
The film looks good and has a gentle atmosphere to it that suits the landscape and also makes the tension easier to raise in the quicker moments (thanks to the contrast). It isn't a brilliant film, but manages to be an enjoyable one despite the lack of a strong narrative. The actors do very well to make engaging characters out of what could have easily been cliché and produce emotion out of what could have just been cloying sentiment.
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