By Nadia Dalimonte
Aldis Hodge, Eli Goree, and Leslie Odom, Jr. in One Night in Miami... (2020)
The love and care that Regina King brings to her feature directorial debut, One Night in Miami..., is riveting to watch. The film is an outstanding stage-to-screen adaptation led by vulnerable, brilliant performances that take a leap of imagination. The story, based on Kemp Powers’ play of the same name, is a fictionalized account of a 1964 meeting between Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, and Muhammad Ali. Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malcolm X), Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown), Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke) and Eli Goree (Cassius Clay, who’d soon take the name Muhammad Ali) each step into iconic roles of cultural significance with career defining performances.
The film is dialogue-driven and shines most when the four of them are brought together for a night in Malcom’s hotel room, where layered conversations of inner conflicts carry the pace. Screenwriter Kemp Powers brings his original stage play to the screen with depth, humour, and urgency. The cast work incredibly well together under King’s seamless direction.
One Night in Miami takes a little while at first to gain traction, first establishing where each of the men are in terms of setting and timeline before bringing them together for a night. But once immersed in the simple setting of hotel room walls, with some transitioning into the outside world, the discourse is riveting all the way through.