Since it's premiere at Sundance, The Birth of a Nation has had a lot to live up to. Premiering during the #OscarsSoWhite movement, many saw this as the answer to it. It got strong reviews right out of the gate and was deemed an Oscar contender. Then of course, you know everything that happened after wards. The reviews out of TIFF didn't mirror Sundance, and director/star/producer/writer Nate Parker's former rape trial came to light. The response out of TIFF made me think I'd wait until this hit DVD, but when offered a ticket to an early showing, I decided to go and hoped to see what the Sundance crowd did.
First off, it's not an issue to separate Parker's personal life from his work. I do it with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, and plenty of actors who are probably grade A assholes in real life. But the thing is, if this film doesn't get it the Oscar glory the internet declared it would, that's what's they're going to blame, and I don't think it's 100% true. Direction wise, this film has a lot of issues.
Parker took on too much, he should've let someone else take the directing reigns, because even the strong script, and the performances by Parker, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis and Aja Naomi King couldn't save it from being one of the worst directed films I've seen lately. Every shot feels too precise. It doesn't flow naturally and Parker hits us over the head with so much symbolism I have to wonder why he wasn't playing it more straight forward? Did he think he had to make an art house flick to make this story stand apart? I felt like he was just trying too hard and because of that and the score, which ultimately didn't fit the film, made this feel melodramatic.
And that's unfortunate, because Nat Turner's story is interesting, Nate Parker's screenplay IS interesting but it suffers tremendously from its execution.
Memorable Quote: "I'm ready." - Nat Turner (Nate Parker)