Luce makes one think, and that is a rare feat these days.
Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr) is a star high school student. Quite the distance from where the boy lived until he was 7 years old, in the war-torn and violence-ridden Eritrea. He was adopted by a white family, Amy Edgar (Naomi Watts) and Peter Edgar (Tim Roth). After years of challenging behaviors, Luce has settled into an existence of a top notch student.
However, with some incidents involving dedicated teacher Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer), some doubt begins to rear its ugly head. When Luce writes a questionable paper, Harriet becomes concerned with the boy’s true thoughts. A search of his locker makes her even more worried.
The best part of the movie, Luce, is that you are never quite sure if what it seems has happened is what actually happened. Are Harriet’s suspicions realistic or is she reading too much into it. Is Luce being misjudged or is he manipulating everything to his liking? You are fairly certain about a scene, and then something happens and you are not sure once again. I like that in a script.
The performances are tremendous. I loved the work of Naomi Watts, Kelvin Harrison and Octavia Spencer especially. These three actors dominated the scenes that they were in and they were able to create deeply imperfect characters whom you can see as real and flawed. Tim Roth is just as compelling, though not used as much as the other three.
This is a movie that demands attention and leaves you feeling uncertain and uncomfortable in all the best ways. I realized after a while in the film that I was not sure what the film was about, and that was all the more intriguing.
Is Luce a hero or a villain? Is he the next best thing or the dark evil of this generation? Is it possible that he could be equal parts of both? And is he being given the proper chance? There are some powerful ideas flowing through this movie and the performances provide some amazing moments.
I’m not sure this is a movie that I want to see again, but the first viewing experience was strong and stick with you for time.