Tim Roth buried secrets of Iron man and parker northern Virginia assembly!
Lonely people and creepy basements are never good signs if you’re a character in a horror film, so the kids here should know better than to be buddies with Sue Ann (whom they’re calling Ma, hence the film’s title), so I think you can more or less imagine what happens next.
All I’ll say is, if you’ve seen Misery and Carrie, you’ll know where the movie’s going. My own takeaway from this movie — Tate Taylor is not much of a horror director, at least not yet, as he seems to be caught between his normal dramatic sensibilities in trying to empathise with Ma’s situation, and a quite apparent hesitation to provide the kind of campy violence that this kind of film calls for.
The title of Luce stands for “light”: It’s what upper-middle-class white American parents Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) named the 7-year-old black child they adopted from Eritrea in the middle of a grisly war. The movie opens with the high-school-aged Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) addressing parents, teachers, and students at a northern Virginia assembly, where he calls for his peers to stand and honor the elders who have made their kids better people. Afterward, a grown-up says that Luce should be cloned, and everyone agrees with a laugh. He’s a credit to their school, Luce is. Someone invokes Obama in passing, and Luce is certainly in that studious, peace-making mode. As Amy and Peter beam and accept congratulations, only one person is frowning: a black teacher, Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer), who has seen the less luce side of Luce. She’s worried about a paper he wrote about black militancy and the morality of extreme violence. She senses his inner tensions.
Directed by Julius Onah from a script by J.C. Lee (based on his play), Luce is often stilted (Would those high-school students really smile and cheer in unison for their parents and teachers without a hint of irony?), but is it cunningly stilted? Are we being set up by Luce’s impeccable manners and by the mostly white, mostly squeaky-clean school (it’s like ’60s TV’s Room 222) for something more disturbing? Yes, in fact, we are being set up, but it’s still a stiff, overly careful piece of filmmaking. Onah and Lee never fully disguise the film’s stage origins and its hokey “buried secret” construction. Most of the big stuff happens “offstage.”