Thursday, November 4, 2010

DVD Review: The Least Among You

Publisher: Lionsgate (2010)
Cast: Cedric Sanders, Lauren Holly, Louis Gossett, Jr.
Director: Mark Young
Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: (from the product description)

Leaders are not chosen, they are called. Inspired by a true story.

Arrested in the 1965 Watts riots, Richard Kelly (Cedric Sanders) must serve probation at an all-white seminary. Although encouraged to break racial boundaries by its president Alan Beckett (William Devane), the school wants black followers not leaders. Even former missionary, Kate Allison (Lauren Holly), initially rejects Richard. A prison sentence looming, Richard meets Samuel Benton (Louis Gossett, Jr.) -- “the gardener in the basement.” As Samuel guides Richard through his many trials, Richard must choose between his dreams and his destiny.

My thoughts:
I've been gravitating towards feel good movies based on true stories.  Perhaps in these bleak economic times, what I want in my entertainment choices at the end of the week are stories about real-life people who have battled their own demons and have inspirational testimonies to tell about their journey out. I'm not always looking for the fantasy movie, the science fiction movie. I'm not trying to escape issues, I just want to watch the story of other people who succeed despite major setbacks in their life.

The Least Among You is one of those stories. The portrait of Richard Kelly is so realistic because he's in no way perfect. He is a product of the Watts Riot so he's seen many things that the white seminary students have no experience with. Because of the violence he sees in his own neighborhood, it's almost like he is coming into the seminary with a chip on his shoulder, so that seems to egg on the white students who want to push his buttons.

It's also realistic in that although he's at a seminary, that doesn't mean that the Christians are always acting in the most "Christian" way. One of the most disturbing scenes is when he comes back to his room and one of his classmates actually burned his mother's cross on Richard's desk in Klu Klux Klan fashion. I shudder to think that some of these "boys" in seminary are pastors today. 

Like all good movies, there's also growth in the protagonist. Richard is so angry that he doesn't always recognize those kids and those adults that are actually trying to help him and guide him, but part of his growing in this movie has to do with learning to forgo anger and distrust for patience and love.

Louis Gossett Jr. is the moral center of this movie, and as usual, this veteran actor doesn't disappoint. The script is not as tight as it could be, but Gossett's star power is undeniable.

1 comment:

Jan von Harz said...

Great review. I was 14 when the Watts Riots took place and actually remember watching the news and the terrifying images that were shown left a lasting impression.

I will definitely have to check this movie out. Thanks


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