In 1940, Thurgood Marshall is a young lawyer for the NAACP who criss-crosses the country defending innocent African-Americans from unjust indictments in court. His latest case is in Bridgeport, Connecticut where an African-American chauffeur is accused of rape of a wealthy white society woman. To admit Marshall into the local Bar, insurance lawyer Sam Friedman is picked over his objections to do introductions in court. However, Friedman's commitment changes drastically when the racist judge forbids Marshall to speak in court, forcing Friedman to act as lead counsel. Now in an intolerable situation for the pair, Marshall must guide his new compatriot through this criminal trial even as Friedman endures not only this unfamiliar area of law, but also the bigoted pressure he now must share. However, the case proves more complex than either anticipates with unexpected twists and turns even as it becomes a vital one that would define two careers as well as the fight for justice in America.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When Sam and Thurgood are walking up the steps of the courthouse, and people are holding signs, modern cars and road cones where traffic is being routed are visible in the upper left corner, past Thurgood. See more »
The Constitution was not written for us. We know that. But no matter what it takes, we're going to make it work for us. From now on, we claim it as our own.
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I hate to say most, but there's a lot of biopics that are very formulaic in nature. And come to think of it, every genre deals with that issue. I can acknowledge that it's immensely hard to make a film that feels fresh and relevant at the same time. But I think the reason I tend to feel this way about biopics is because a lot of them seem to be directly aimed for the Oscar audience. And while that could be the case with Marshall, it's nothing less than a delightful film to watch.
As with so many biopics, the main reason Marshall succeeds is Chadwick Boseman's unsurprisingly good turn as the famous lawyer, Thurgood Marshall. Whether or not Thurgood was this way in real life, I absolutely loved the sheer display of confidence in Boseman's portrayal. It was almost to the point of cockiness, without being arrogant. It's that balance that made me appreciate what this man brought to the table.
Of course, there's also the dynamic of having a story that is still relevant to this day. Not only are people of color still discriminated, underestimated, and not believed in the court of law, but the idea of pitting race against race in the courtroom is something that is still unfortunately an issue today. So in a way, it was disheartening to watch the injustices happening throughout Marshall, as we know they are far from being over in the 1940's, but it's always nice to see something stick up for their people no matter what time period they are from.
Boseman isn't the only one who gives a good performance as Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, James Cromwell, and a few others give valuable turns as their respected characters. I think my only issue with the film is that it ultimately felt very safe. I'm not one to know how these real life cases played out, but Marshall definitely feels like it took a guarded approach to the subject matter. Because of that, you can appeal to a mass audience, but I don't know that it was as detailed or thorough that it needed to be. Don't get me wrong, Marshall is a powerful film, but I think it could have taken an even further step forward into that realm.
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