Regina King’s directorial debut is a fiction inspired by a real event that occurred on February 25, 1964, the day Cassius Clay was proclaimed world heavyweight champion. That night Clay met at a Miami hotel with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke, and football player Jim Brown. The four knew each other beforehand, the four were friends. And that was definitely a night to celebrate.
A night of which we really only know what we can suppose, or what we can imagine as Kemp Powers imagined without going any further, first in the form of a play and now in the form of a film. A premise with great potential, as simple in appearance as in complex practice. And complicated. And a project without a doubt irresistible for someone like Regina King, known as much for her work as an actress as for her activism.
Although ‘One Night in Miami …’ is his first film, King had previously directed several episodes of television series such as’ Scandal ‘,’ This Is Us’, ‘Shameless’,’ Animal Kingdom ‘or’ The Good Doctor. ‘ She is not exactly a newcomer, and it is clear that she knows what she is doing: ‘One Night in Miami …’ is the logical next step in an artistic career as solvent as King’s. As solvent as the film itself is.
And that is the description that best fits a film whose dialectic and ideology remain fully topical more than 50 years later. That is largely his main argument, in fact: To speak from the past as if it were a present that to a large extent, is still so present. A solvent film that King, an experienced interpreter, leaves in the hands of an exquisite text and his leading quartet, each one more intoned …
… to the point that perhaps the most interesting thing is to debate with whom to stay of the four. ‘One Night in Miami …’ is very much a play around four chattering men in a room. A clearly intended work, and clearly conscientious in which everything else pays homage to them with the approval of King, generous in its effort by the noble act of the helpful discretion of those who are unseen.
The discreet charm of the solvent, completely solvent but not at all extraordinary: That perhaps the most interesting thing is with which of its protagonists we stay if we have to stay with only one, is exceedingly revealing. Because if we take away its political and vindictive burden from ‘One night in Miami …’, always between the opportune and the opportunistic, we basically have four chattering men in a room.
In other words, it is very good: ‘A night in Miami …’ is a good film, although its solvency is discreet, even conventional. Like that waiter always in his place that we do not see beyond his status as a waiter. A proposal that is safe and does not risk that grows through the interpretations, some dialogues and the honesty that emanates from a not very passionate speech, but no less meaningful.
By Juan Pairet Iglesias