The Relevance of “One Night In Miami”


One Night. Four Legends. One Room. What could go wrong?

Garrett Masters, Opinions-Editorial Editor

Since the current political climate in the U.S. is overwhelming, many people are wanting to find avenues to express themselves in order to bring about a sense of personal catharsis into their lives. Many people turn to entertainment for that escape or relief. 

With Regina King’s directorial debut “One Night In Miami,” the line between entertainment and social commentary is blurred as it delves into tough questions that are shown through the eyes of four very important historical figures. 

The film opens on the lives of our four leads: Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). This opening gets the audience invested in the characters, seeing their daily lives and the hurdles they are facing. 

By introducing our leads immediately, King can thrust the audience into the setting of the movie, drawing parallels between modern America and 1960s America. 

Each actor brought a certain presence to their performances, which I was unprepared for. Seeing them play off one another as they kick back, debate, and argue over their beliefs was easily one of the highlights of the film. 

The script was written by Kemp Powers, who is adapting his own stage play of the same name for the big screen. Powers’ choice of dialogue is filled with rich monologues and memorable lines, which keeps the characters’ debates interesting.

There is a sincerity to the dialogue which is further complemented by Cinematographer Tami Reiker’s camera-work. Reiker’s excellent use of “blocking” (the use of staging an actor about the camera,) helps to amplify the cramped environment of the film. 

Similarly, Reiker cleverly integrates focus into her shots, to allow the audience to get inside the heads of our protagonists and feel what they are experiencing.

All of this culminated in a very riveting and very relevant end product. The movie wasn’t afraid to delve into some tough and often thought-provoking questions about race and belief systems; these are themes that are sure to resonate with people now as they did five decades ago. 

“One Night in Miami” depicts what happens when we work through our issues together. And much like the journey our four legends underwent, the road to change can be a difficult and challenging one.

Much like the song “Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, the result could be something both powerful and beautiful.