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Robin Bissell
Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell, Babou Ceesay
Writing Credits:
Robin Bissell

In North Carolina circa 1971, civil rights activist Ann Atwater faces off against KKK leader CP Ellis over the issue of school integration.

Box Office:
$10 Million.
Opening Weekend
$4,446,190 on 1705 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 7/2/2019

• “Make a Connection” Featurette
• “Ann Atwater” Featurette
• “An Unlikely Friendship” Documentary
• Trailer & Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Best of Enemies [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 18, 2019)

Inspired by real events, 2019’s The Best of Enemies takes us to Durham, North Carolina circa 1971. In that setting, Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) campaigns for civil rights in a setting hostile toward the advancement of African-Americans.

This leads Ann to butt heads with locals. In particular, she comes up against CP Ellis (Sam Rockwell), the leader of the local Ku Klux Klan chapter.

In 1971, the elementary dominated by African-American students burns, so these kids need a new facility. Ann pushes toward integration, and inevitably, Ellis and others resist.

When a court decrees that integration will occur, both Ann and Ellis serve on a commission to work out the issues. This leads the pair of antagonists to cooperate, whether they like it or not.

Normally a “serious” film like Enemies would come out in the fall, as that release date would give it a better shot at Oscar consideration. Perhaps Universal felt so confident in the film’s potential that they figured its early April debut wouldn’t damage its prospects.

Or maybe the studio figured the end product wouldn’t receive awards attention no matter when it hit screens, so they might as well put it out whenever they wanted. That impulse feels correct, as Enemies received consistently mediocre reviews.

Which the film deserves. While well-meaning and more than watchable, Enemies fails to become anything more than a serviceable drama about race relations.

When Enemies succeeds, it does so due to its cast. In particular, Henson and Rockwell bring heft to their roles and make them more effective than otherwise become the case.

Unfortunately, they get stuck with a fairly trite script, one that follows an uncomfortable trend common among dramas of this sort. It seems like too many too these films focus more on the white characters and leave the black roles gasping for air.

Granted, some of that becomes inevitable since Ellis needs to walk a longer path than Ann does. Although she must shed some of her prejudices, she lacks the vile hate of her white counterpart, so she goes through fewer changes.

Still, Enemies leaves Ann on the sidelines too often. When she does appear, she often feels like she exists mainly to facilitate Ellis’s journey, not to develop her own persona.

In addition, Enemies works too hard to soften Ellis ahead of his transformation, as we see some family elements that force the audience to sympathize with him fairly early in the story. It feels odd to complain about depth in a character, but this comes across as a misfire because it adds a premature layer of warmth to the role that doesn’t suit it.

Really, it’s the movie’s choice to focus so much on Ellis that remains the biggest problem, though, and it also tends to avoid true confrontation of core issues. Ellis goes down a predictable journey populated with predictable challenges that wrap up in a predictable place.

Of course, I can’t feel too upset with a movie that shows how a vicious bigot can grow. God knows that in the current atmosphere, we need more tales of cooperation among people of different ethnicities.

I just wish Enemies avoided the trite traps into which it falls and gave us something more bracing and ambitious. The film brings us an uplifting tale that simply feels too simplistic and cliché in the end.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

The Best of Enemies appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a good but slightly inconsistent presentation.

Sharpness became the main up and down element, as some soft shots appeared at times. These didn’t dominate, so most of the film looked well-defined, but a few oddly iffy bits occurred.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects popped up, and I saw no signs of edge haloes or print flaws either.

Even with its period setting, Enemies opted for a predictable teal and orange palette. While those choices felt trite, the Blu-ray reproduced them as intended.

Blacks looked deep and rich and low-light elements boasted good clarity. All of this created a mainly satisfying image.

Due to the story’s character focus, I didn’t expect much from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, but I found a fairly engaging mix. Most of the movie focused on music and general ambience, and those domains provided a nice sense of the material.

A few more dynamic sequences added zest to the proceedings, such as when the fire struck the school. These didn’t pop up with great frequency, but they connected when necessary.

Audio quality worked nicely. Speech seemed natural and concise, while music was warm and full.

Effects showed fine clarity and impact, with deep low-end as appropriate. I felt this became a more than acceptable soundtrack.

Two short featurettes appear: “Make a Connection” (1:46) and “Ann Atwater” (2:20). Across these, we hear from Ann Atwater, CP Ellis, Black Solidarity Committee chairman Howard Clement, and actors Sam Rockwell and Taraji P. Henson.

The featurettes cover story and characters. They’re both promotional and superficial.

A more substantial piece, An Unlikely Friendship runs 34 minutes, 46 seconds and brings info from Atwater, Ellis, Clement, political scientist Lou Lipsitz, and charrette manager Bill Riddick.

With “Friendship”, we get a look at the real events that inspired the movie. It becomes a solid overview, especially since it comes entirely from the people involved.

The disc opens with ads for Hotel Mumbai, Amazing Grace, Little Woods, Poms and There’s Nothing Like Family. We also get the trailer for Enemies.

Despite a compelling story at its core, The Best of Enemies only occasionally connects, and it works mainly due to a strong cast. As a film, it lacks depth and embraces too many clichés. The Blu-ray boasts reasonably good picture and audio along with supplements highlighted by a documentary. Enemies becomes a watchable but inconsistent effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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