I know that it's only January, but I'll come right out and say that Steve McQueen's Mangrove is, by far, one of the best movies of the year.
No, I'm not just saying this because of my obsession with Black Panther's Letitia Wright (although that certainly is a factor) and no, I'm not simply referring to the plethora of positive reviews from critics that are floating around the Internet right now. I say this because it has been a really long time since I felt this moved by a film. The courtroom drama not only took me through a roller coaster of emotions, but it also taught me a bit of overlooked history, including an honest portrayal of the Black British experience during the 1970s.
Based on the true story of the Mangrove Nine, Mangrove centers on Frank Crichlow, who runs a Caribbean restaurant in west London during the early '70s. After dealing with repeated police raids, Frank teams up with his community and organizes a peaceful march. However, Frank and eight other protesters are arrested and falsely accused of inciting a riot. This results in a lengthy and highly publicized trial that raises valid questions about the legitimacy of the judicial process.
The historical drama, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, is the first installment of McQueen's five-part film anthology, called Small Axe. I've yet to continue the series, partly because I've been obsessively Googling the Mangrove Nine and also because I don't feel quite ready to move on just yet. In addition to its heartbreaking moments, I want to keep savoring the sweeter parts of this film, from the colorful block parties to the characters' impromptu performance of Mighty Sparrow's "Jean And Dinah."