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Detroit - A heartbreaking yet authentic dramatisation of true events

by Roisin Gordon. Published Fri 25 Aug 2017 20:32, last updated: 26/08/17

Kathryn Bigelow is no stranger to dealing with controversial subject matter having won an Oscar for her Iraq conflict movie The Hurt Locker and now turns unflinchingly to shine a light on the racial tensions in America with her latest film Detroit.

The film opens with a beautifully crafted animation sequence which explains the racial tensions and injustice which sparked the 1967 riots, before focussing on The Algiers Motel.

The now notorious incident, where the Detroit police reacted to the reports of gunshots fired near the location of the motel. The police led by Philip Krauss (Will Poulter, The Revenant), who seems to have been blessed with a face perfect for playing evil.

During the riots, the authorities were made to fear snipers on the roofs of buildings and the Detroit Police officers start a brutal and intense interrogation as they demand to know who the shooter was and the location of the gun.

Bigelow’s direction really places you in the moment and keeps the audience engaged with the story through her incredible direction. From the pacing to the camera angles, the cinematography oozes an uncomfortable intensity and traps the viewer in The Algiers Motel with the victims.

The production design is incredible, as you feel like a lot of detail went into making the sets look very authentic of the 1967 period and Bigelow also brilliantly blends real life footage and still imagery from the period into the film, which really makes it feel all the more authentic.

From the very beginning when we see the riots kick off to the ending outcome of these events. It’s a completely intense watch and it’s heartbreaking when you know that these people lived through all this fifty years ago and that the violent racial conflict feels pretty familiar with the recent events in Charlottesville.

The cast all give incredible performances that really help to draw you into what you’re witnessing on screen, from the terrified recipients of the abuse who are fearing for their lives, to the brutal police officers whose horrifying interrogation techniques to get them to confess that leaves you feeling unsettled. There is not one bad performance from any of them.

Will Poulter gives a standout performance as Philip Krauss, he’s played bratty characters in the past but this is on a completely different level. His ruthlessness towards the victims and violence he uses is horrifying to watch.

What’s even more scary is that the character doesn’t see what he’s doing as wrong, making it all the more uncomfortable to watch. In what is a very intense role, Poulter gives a very strong performance and really shines out amongst the cast.

Algee Smith is another standout amongst the cast, as Larry Reed (based on a real life figure) who was an aspiring singer in the R&B group The Dramatics. The audience are held captive and we see the tragedy unfold through his degeneration from a young singer trying to achieve his dream to becoming a broken and bitter man, fearing for the police after he and a friend are caught up in the incident at the Algiers Motel.

Detroit is an intense and heartbreaking watch, but a must see for this summer

Detroit is out now in cinemas.

Purple Revolver rating: 5/5


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