Having the audacity to defy consensus and provoke the ire of the majority, who are almost never very concerned about changing what needs changing, is a moral imperative for a rare class of people, those people who spend sleepless nights just because they do the basic turmoil that is going on in the world. Obviously, not all absurd situations that occur in the daily life of citizens or entire countries deserve the insomnia of pious souls on earth, but there are realities that should not even be called by that name, so great is the discrepancy with the minimum of viewpoint of humanity, decency, logic accepted as acceptable. Everyone uses the weapons at their disposal to free themselves from the snares of life that are more or less severely imposed on every woman and every man. One who is naturally gifted with a privileged intelligence, which is becoming increasingly rare in a world ruled by bestiality and low politeness, certainly stands out; hence comes that little ray of luminosity, able to ward off the deep darkness of ignorance and cowardice, Siamese sisters who condemn people to backwardness and force them to commit the same mistakes over and over again.
Intelligence can be one of the great predicates that someone is made of. However, when left to grow carelessly, like an unknown wild plant, intelligence becomes a monster that devours even the wisest of people without even realizing it. Once there is no parameter to separate wisdom from arrogance, medicines become poisons and talent lends itself to killing all kinds of perversions, willingly or not. The title character of “Luce” (2019) experiences the pomp and torment of the role model and this epithet carries a particularly uncomfortable weight for him. In the film, Julius Onah deals with serious matters, and the heavier the hand, the more necessary it becomes to tell this story.
Onah and JC Lee, with whom the director wrote the screenplay, know very well what they want: to convey the most dialectical feelings to the audience. His antiheroine Luce Edgar is a gifted black boy who leaves a sign or two of latent psychopathy ready to wake up. Here, Kelvin Harrison Jr. embodies a guy with fear, similar to his character in Anthony Mandler’s “Monster” (2018), but with a different sign. If Steve Harmon was a wellborn black boy and an excellent student, Luce resembles him only in that way just like “Monster” is an author’s film, a training film, a mustsee film, like this one, except Onah suggests the repeated catchphrases that occur in the genre’s plots, one at a time. Steve was the son of matched parents, while Luce was adopted growing up by Amy, Naomi Watts’ mentally unstable ENT, and Peter, played by Tim Roth, little inclined in his son’s direction to watch games, but somewhat vulnerable to his wife’s influence. There are some disturbing narrative triggers.
The clashes with Professor Harriet Wilson, played by Octavia Spencer (one of the film’s producers), at the beginning of the story devolve into the skillfully staged confrontation scenes in which Harriet is finally certain that she is dealing with a potential criminal, a sentiment Luce had written to advocate the use of force to ensure rights were upheld. This seemingly silly or at least light subplot has the power to fill in all the absurdity that follows, with an honorable and pathologically lonely woman, like Spencer’s character in Tate’s “Ma” (2019). Taylor cornered by a spoiled and dangerous teenager. Even if yours prevents her from looking at you like that.
Direction: Julius Onah