Make no mistake — Mike Binder‘s Black or White is a strong, nervy film that deals fair cards, as Steve Harvey acknowledges in an episode airing on Friday, 1.30. But many critics have slapped it down for, I believe, not saying the right things in the right way. Some are claiming it deals from a stacked deck; what they really mean is that they don’t like the hand. Here’s my Toronto Film Festival review. As I said on 12.3.14, Black or White “wears its emotions a little too plainly at times, but Binder’s script doesn’t slavishly follow the sensitive liberal line about the black-white chasm and the stereotypes that cling to that, and so it’s been thrown under the bus.”
If Ava DuVernay had directed and co-written Black or White and cast Kevin Costner as the lead, would the reception be the same? I suspect that DuVernay’s Black or White would have been saluted and celebrated a hell of a lot more than Binder‘s version has been. The only difference between Binder’s Black or White and DuVernay’s is that Ava would have gone easier on the Reggie character by removing the drug problem and making him an attorney or a doctor. It’s not just the movie these days — it’s the combination of the right movie and the right filmmakers behind it.