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'Imperfect' Detroit Makes for 'Urgent Viewing'

Expect 'stomach-churning horror'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2017 10:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit tells the story of a black singer who takes refuge in a dingy motel to escape the 1967 Motor City riots. Based on real events, the film reunites Bigelow with screenwriter Mark Boal, both of the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker. It's got a strong 89% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Here's what critics are saying:

  • "Bigelow drills down into one of American history's most egregious cases of abuse of police power, bringing it to life with visceral detail and slowed-down meticulousness" in what "feels like her timeliest movie yet," writes Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post. It's "daring, sophisticated and unforgettably disturbing." And "in scale, scope and the space it offers for a long-awaited moral reckoning, it's nothing less than monumental."
  • "It's hard to overstate just how visceral and harrowing an experience it is," writes Lindsey Bahr at the AP, calling Detroit "a well-made and evocative film" jam-packed with "stomach-churning horror." She argues there could be more nuance and perspective. But "maybe anger is all you're supposed to feel when you step outside the theater. Maybe not feeling satisfied with Detroit is the point."

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  • Chris Klimek says Detroit is "maddeningly imperfect but still honorable," citing "lightly fictionalized" aspects of the otherwise true story that set it up "for maximum outrage." This is "messy work, even when it’s done in good faith," he writes at NPR. He applauds John Boyega, previously of The Force Awakens. Radiating a "Denzel-like calm," he shows "he's a bonafide movie star," Klimek writes.
  • Peter Howell's main gripe is that the film "tries to tell us everything about the circumstances without telling us much about the people." But Detroit still makes for "urgent viewing," he writes at the Toronto Star. Why? "The injustice and anger behind it all feels like current reality, even a half-century on," when "a person's skin can still determine everything from employment opportunities to treatment by police."
(Read more movie review stories.)

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