Movie Review - Luce
Kelvin Harrison Jr. (It Comes At Night and Monsters and Men) stars as Luce Edgar, a high school student who is black but who lives with his white adopted parents in a nice, suburban home in a fairly wealthy neighborhood. He was born in a war-torn country, possibly one in Africa. He lived in that country until he was around 7. He's now completely assimilated into American culture and things seem fine. He's a popular track star. He's on the debate team. Everybody seems to love him, but there are issues bubbling underneath the surface. A few of the issues seem connected to his teacher and those issues do stem or relate to his identity.
There are a couple of students in particular who have been personally affected. Both of whom have already been affected prior to the start of this film. What happened to them prompts Luce to do some intervening of his own. The film raises a question from the beginning and throughout of whether or not Luce is guilty of any wrongdoing. The film never directly addresses his guilt, but it does seem obvious even before the ending that he is culpable in what appears to be retaliation against Harriet. The retaliation would make more sense if it was just about what happens to the first student who is Luce's friend, DeShaun, played by Brian Bradley aka Astro (Earth to Echo and See You Yesterday).
What also threw me off is the titular character himself. As the film progressed, Luce felt less and less like an actual person and more like a contrived character for dramatics sake. He never totally felt real to me, especially by the end. It all could have been due to the clear facade he put up to mask his intentions regarding his retaliation against his teacher, but there are other things about him that rang false. In one scene, Luce's adopted mother, Amy, played by Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts (21 Grams and Mulholland Drive), tells him that they are trying to protect him and Luce responds that it might be his adopted parents from whom he needs protection, which makes no sense.
Rated R for language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 49 mins.