Runtime: 1h 45m
Directors: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
Writers: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
Stars: Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone
“The unresolved past can certainly wreak havoc on the present.”
Initial: I was pretty excited for this movie when I first saw the trailer. If 2020 hadn’t been 2020, I might have seen it in a theater.
Production Notes: While it’s true that Antebellum shares a producer with Get Out and Us, that producer is not Jordan Peele as some viewers might assume.
What Did I Think: (I’ll try to avoid spoilers.)
That production note isn’t the only thing that was misleading about Antebellum‘s ad campaign. Occasionally, I include a trailer and worry that it gives away too much of the movie. In this case, the trailer gives a very different impression of what Antebellum is. And I don’t think it’s a good thing. The plot of Antebellum is barely more than what you might find in an episode of The Twilight Zone. There is a twist and the twist does account for many of the problems I had with the beginning of the movie, but also doesn’t account for a few really big plot holes.
The cast is quite good. I’m a fan of Janelle Monáe’s music and I hope she’s given further roles. The supporting cast, too, gives it their all. Technically, it’s a beautiful movie which makes the violence extra discomfiting, but there is also a gratuitousness to the early section of the movie, the portion set on the plantation. That first act goes on for quite a while without advancing the story much. Should the audience get a idea about the brutality of slavery? Yes. Does that need to be nearly 40 minutes of the runtime? Probably not.
As for the contemporary section of the movie, the character of Veronica feels very shallow. She is a pundit and sociologist, but she speaks in kind of a “woke” double-talk. It’s weirdly tone-deaf. The climax of the movie is pretty much only about survival, and it lacks any character development or nuance. There is no good reason why the revolt relies on Veronica.
I’ve seen worse movies, but I’ve definitely seen much better.