Impressions: Luce (2019) – Julius Onah

Luce tackles a lot of interesting and thorny topics. I have to say though, even though I recognize a lot of the white-people tendencies on display with Luce’s parents (like avoiding conflict, pretending like nothing is wrong, and white-savior mentality) it is a bit of a stretch to think they are really so bad at seeing through Luce’s B.S. when he lies to them. Clearly they do see through it sometimes, but it wasn’t set up as something that we expect the parents to be familiar with (as being a liar is not a character trait that should pop out of nowhere) and so it comes off as unnatural and wrong, rather than as a justified source of tension (as we the audience with the benefit of a god’s-eye-view already know it should be). But then again, colorblindess itself is unnatural and wrong, and that is the fundamental tension between Luce’s parents, who are intentionally blinding themselves and rubbing that desire off on Luce, and Harriet, who is trying to remove those blinders, even if she ends up doing it in possibly deleterious ways that probably veer too close to tokenism and maintaining the oppressive system, and probably aren’t suitable for highschoolers just trying to graduate and get on with their lives (though maybe I’m being too harsh on her methods here…).

I dare not wade into the discussion on colorblindness, guarding against stereotype threat, tokenism, and systemic inequity that is being had between Luce and Harriet, as I have zero personal experience of living life as a black person, but from my perspective at least the movie appears to be doing a good job of showing the pros and cons of both sides’ points and giving the viewer a chance to empathize and understand them. The final shot of the film certainly drives home the visceral pain he feels and the need to empathize with Luce, if that wasn’t already achieved through his own rhetorical pleas.

It’s definitely worth a watch, and I look forward to reading more qualified folks’ impressions.

See this review on my Letterboxd

Credit: Asheville Movies

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