Luce trailer

Director Julius Onah took a bit of a critical beating last year with his messy, inert, interconnected side-quel The Cloverfield Paradox, but he seems to have rebounded in a big way with a psychological thriller called Luce. A psychological thriller adapted from an acclaimed play, this movie about a model student who may be hiding a dark secret made its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and has been scooping up strong reviews ever since. Check out the intriguing new trailer below.

Luce Trailer

This looks like a breakout role for Kelvin Harrison, Jr., an actor you may notice from his work in movies like It Comes at Night and Mudbound, and the fact that he’s holding his own against heavy hitters like Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, and Tim Roth bodes well for him. It’s interesting timing that this trailer is released when Spencer’s blow-budget Blumhouse movie Ma just hit theaters, because this trailer makes Luce seem like another film in which she plays a woman willing to go to drastic lengths to achieve revenge. But is that just the trailer toying with us? Here’s a quick excerpt from our review from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival that touches on the dynamic between Spencer and Harrison’s characters:

Is the teacher going too far in pressuring Luce to be his best self? Miss Wilson has a habit of singling out her marginalized students and pressuring them to live ideals of how marginalized students should survive within society. Luce and his friends find her approaches callous and overbearing while Spencer plays as more tough love than grudge-motivated by her own disgruntlement with the system as a black woman. In a raw exchange between teacher and student, they clash with their notions of their own black identities.

Either way, this looks like a heck of a step up from The Cloverfield Paradox for Onah, who co-wrote this screenplay with J.C. Lee (the author of the play on which the film is based).

Here’s the film’s official synopsis:

An all-star high school athlete and accomplished debater, Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a poster boy for the new American Dream. As are his parents (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth), who adopted him from a war-torn country a decade earlier. When Luce’s teacher (Octavia Spencer) makes a shocking discovery in his locker, Luce’s stellar reputation is called into question. But is he really at fault, or is Ms. Wilson preying on dangerous stereotypes? Stacked with amazing performances and adapted from JC Lee’s acclaimed play, director Julius Onah has created an intense, multi-layered and deeply entertaining look at identity in today’s America.

Luce opens in theaters on August 2, 2019.

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