Based loosely on true events following Cassius Clay’s world title-winning boxing bout in 1964, the speculative One Night in Miami brings together in a motel room four of the most influential African-Americans of the time.
All four are friends, with the arrogant yet likeable motor-mouth Clay (Eli Goree – Race, The Guilty) on the verge of announcing his conversion to Islam, supported by the controversial Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir – The Commuter, King Arthur). Football star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge – Straight Outta Compton, Hidden Figures) and music icon Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jnr – Hamilton, Harriet) are also present in the low-key celebration of Clay’s victory.
Adapted from his own stage play by Kemp Powers (Soul), it’s a wordy, worthy affair as the men clash in their beliefs and positioning of African-Americans in a racist society. Arguments and disagreements abound within the claustrophobic confines, the narratives broken only occasionally by moments of interrupt. The words are profound and meaningful (particularly with the realisation that both Cooke and Malcolm X would be dead within a year), delivered well by all four men. But director Regina King respects the message a little too much, failing to effectively move the momentum from the staginess of its origin.
Nominated for 3 Oscars in 2021 – supporting actor (Odom Jnr), adapted screenplay and original song.