Luce is an incredible narrative and it’s one of the best adaption I’ve seen from a play.
Julius Onah and JC Lee penned a screenplay that is so rich with content, preconceived ideals and filled with deceit. He highlights the education system in America and the stereotypes students are faced with. It handles tokenism in schools and the treatment by certain educators. The film is so well written, that every single interaction throughout will leave you on edge because of the dialogue and the way these actors executed it.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. gives such a nuanced performance. He’s reserved, cunning and extremely private. His character, Luce, hides himself because of the pressures of being perfect that surrounds him. His parents have pushed him to be the best person that he could be and that pressure pushes him to the edge. It’s an internalized performance but his composure and the change he made to his voice really made this his breakout role.
Octavia Spencer was terrifying as Ms. Wilson. As the teacher who wants her star students to progress to her standards, she was aggressive, stern and on a power trip. She wanted her black students to understand the societal pressure that came with a stereotype and she wanted to mould them in a different way. Onah also highlights the high school experience quite nicely and deals with racism in the education system, in a more demanding way.
I loved the pacing of this film and how the pieces came together slowly. Onah utilized his actors in the frame, he planted objects throughout the film and he placed seeds in every viewers mind. At the beginning, he focused on the lockers and that was the seed for the viewer, the story became more complex and you couldn’t stop watching.