native son trailer

After a well-received premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Native Son heads to HBO in April. Director Rashid Johnson and writer Suzan-Lori Parks adapt Richard Wright’s acclaimed novel into modern times, with Moonlight‘s Ashton Sanders as a young man coming of age in the south side of Chicago. Ahead of the April premiere on HBO, a new Native Son trailer can be seen below.

Native Son Trailer

Native Son is the story of “Bigger Thomas (Ashton Sanders), a young African-American living in Chicago who is hired as a chauffeur for affluent businessman Will Dalton (Bill Camp). As Thomas enters this seductive new world of money and power — including a precarious relationship with Dalton’s daughter, Mary (Margaret Qualley) — he faces unforeseen choices and perilous circumstances that will alter the course of his life forever.” Other cast members include Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Elizabeth Marvel, David Alan Grier and Sanaa Lathan.

I missed Native Son at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but I heard some varying opinions about it. Some critics I talked to loved it, while others were left cold. Our own Ben Pearson falls in the former category, calling the adaptation “stunning”, and adding:

Native Son is an adaptation of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel, and while I haven’t read that book, first-time director Rashid Johnson arrives on the scene with a smart, impressive debut full of strong work from a young cast…Johnson, a rookie director but an established visual artist, tinges the movie with an ominous vibe as soon as Big takes the job, depicting the white family’s mansion almost like a haunted house (one of the doorways looks exactly like a coffin). He eventually teeters the film into horror territory in the aftermath of one unexpected event, and that’s when the societal commentary creeps back into the story. Audiences may feel disjointed by the tonal shift, but the filmmaking is so solid (with cinematography by frequent Darren Aronofsky collaborator Matthew Libatique) that I remained on board the whole way.”

“Our goal [with the film] was to never pander,” said director Rashid Johnson. “We never wanted to pander, and we wanted to keep the level of discourse at a tier that we thought was accessible to all, which a high level of discourse is.”

Native Son was originally set for a theatrical release from indie super-studio A24, but will not head right to HBO instead. The film premieres Saturday, April 6 at 10:00 p.m.

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