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Black or White (2014)

PG-13 | | Drama | 30 January 2015 (USA)
2:15 | Trailer

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A grieving widower is drawn into a custody battle over his granddaughter, whom he helped raise her entire life.


Mike Binder


Mike Binder
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Costner ... Elliott Anderson
Octavia Spencer ... Rowena Jeffers
Jillian Estell ... Eloise Anderson
Bill Burr ... Rick Reynolds
Mpho Koaho ... Duvan Araga
Anthony Mackie ... Jeremiah Jeffers
André Holland ... Reggie Davis
Gillian Jacobs ... Fay
Jennifer Ehle ... Carol
Paula Newsome ... Judge Cummins
Indigo ... Young Nurse
Bertha Bindewald Bertha Bindewald ... Rosita
Joe Chrest ... Dave
Ireyon Johnson Ireyon Johnson ... Kristen
Janeline Hayes ... Dondi


Black or White is the story of a grandfather (Kevin Costner) who is suddenly left to care for his beloved granddaughter. When her paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) seeks custody with the help of her brother (Anthony Mackie), the little girl is torn between two families who love her deeply. With the best intentions at heart, both families fight for what they feel is right and are soon forced to confront their true feelings about race, forgiveness, and understanding. Anchored by an all-star cast and based on real events, the movie is a look at two seemingly different worlds, in which nothing is as simple as black or white. Written by Relativity

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's more to family than what you see.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language, thematic material involving drug use and drinking, and for a fight | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

30 January 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black and White See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »


Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,456,000, 1 February 2015, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$21,569,041, 10 May 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Boasts Kevin Costner's worst wide opening weekend gross after Rumor Has It... (2005) . See more »


When Eloise is shown with her iPad at the kitchen table she is shown with both hands on the tablet, but when the camera angle changes, she is shown resting her head on one hand and the tablet propped up in front of her. See more »


[first lines]
Rick Reynolds: Elliot. Hey.
Elliot Anderson: [dialing his phone] David, it's Elliot. I'm not going home, they'll be takng her body to Richter Memorial. I'll come back in the morning, meet them, go with her, see what's the next step. I'll take to you in the morning.
Elliot Anderson: [now to Rick] ... My brother.
Rick Reynolds: She's gone?
Elliot Anderson: [yes]
Rick Reynolds: Well, what did the doctor say?
Elliot Anderson: That they, um... that they did what they could.
Rick Reynolds: Oh, God, Elliot, I'm so sorry.
See more »


White Lies
Written by Paolo Nutini (Paolo Giovanni Nutini) and John Fortis
Performed by Paolo Nutini
Courtesy of Warner Music UK Ltd.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

"Black or White" is a well-titled, important and entertaining film.
31 January 2015 | by CleveMan66See all my reviews

In late 1991, Michael Jackson released a song calling attention to the need for racially harmony. The lyrics repeat the sentence: "It don't matter if you're black or white." Although the movie that shares the song's title doesn't use or reference MJ's number 1 hit, "Black or White" (PG-13, 2:01) very effectively reinforces the song's message with a story that's both a pleasure to watch and very timely.

Kevin Costner stars as Elliott Anderson, an L.A. attorney who, with his wife, was raising their bi-racial granddaughter, Eloise (the delightful Jillian Estelle). Eloise's mother / Elliott's daughter died in child birth at the age of 17 and the 23-year-old boyfriend who got her pregnant promptly disappeared. Now, Elliott's beloved wife is killed in a car accident and Eloise's care falls to Elliott. Eloise is a happy 7-year-old who has a very close relationship with her grandfather, but her surviving grandmother, Rowena (Octavia Spencer) feels that Eloise is missing out. Rowena is a real estate agent and entrepreneur who lives with her large family live in Compton. Rowena and her family are welcome in Elliott's home, but that's not enough for Rowena. She feels that Eloise needs a mother's love (or at least a feminine touch), more regular contact with the rest of her family and a stronger connection with her racial heritage, things that Rowena feels Elliott cannot provide. In a sense, Rowena is right. Elliott hires a math tutor (Mpho Koaho) who becomes a big part of Elliott and Eloise's life, and Elliott takes some time off of work, but at the end of the day, he's basically raising Eloise by himself. It's a very tough time for Elliott (and Eloise), but also for Rowena and her family, who miss the little girl. Both sides of Eloise's family love her dearly and want what's best for her – although they disagree on exactly what that is.

When Elliott refuses Rowena's suggestion of shared custody of Eloise, Rowena decides to sue for full custody. Rowena's brother, Jeremiah (Anthony Mackie), is also an attorney and has agreed to represent Rowena in her custody case. At the same time, Elliott's law firm is representing him in his fight to keep his granddaughter with him. For her part, Eloise wants to stay where she is, but the growing tension around her is causing her significant stress – and some confusion. As complicated as this situation already is, Elliott and Rowena each have issues that work against their cases – and what's best for Eloise. Elliott drinks – a lot (even using Eloise's math tutor as his driver at times), but there is some question as to whether Elliott is actually an alcoholic. On the other side, as the custody battle is just heating up, Rowena welcomes her prodigal son, Reggie (Andre Holland) back in to her home and changes her custody petition so that Reggie is actually the one fighting for custody. Reggie is the girl's father, but he has a criminal past which includes drug use, which Reggie keeps insisting is no longer a problem. Rowena loves her son, but seems to place an undue amount of faith in his character and his potential. Compounding these challenges is the fact that Elliott and Rowena each have a blind spot regarding these problems of theirs. Both sides also have to struggle against the prejudices that each has toward the other, prejudices which they may not even fully appreciate themselves.

"Black or White" is a very good title for a very good movie. Considering recent racially-charged court cases, it's an especially timely movie – and one that hints at a solution to these issues. Having two Oscar winners (Costner and Spencer) as the main characters gives the film gravitas and Mike Binder's script and direction make for a movie that plays fair with both sides and all characters. This film is an opportunity for all audience members to reflect on their own prejudices and whether or not, in the final analysis, many of the racially inflammatory issues of our times should even be a question of "black or white". This film, like Michael Jackson's song, imagines a world in which people are judged, in Martin Luther King Jr.'s words "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." The story's resolution may be a bit simplistic, but also shows us that we, as individuals and as a society, don't have to regard every issue that divides us as a case of winners and losers, black or white. This movie is well-deserving of a look – and at least a little post-multiplex contemplation – no matter if you're… well, regardless of your race. For an effective, heartfelt, occasionally humorous and entertaining exploration of one of the most important issues of our time, I give this one an "A-".

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