Based on Osha Gray Davidson’s book, The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South, The Best of Enemies stars Taraji P. Henson as civil rights activist Ann Atwater and Sam Rockwell as Exalted Cyclops of North Carolina’s Klu Klux Klan, C.P. Ellis. The movie tells the unlikely story of how the two became friends during the debate over the integration of North Carolina’s schools in 1971.
It was an intense drama, to be sure, but it also had a surprising amount of humor. Taraji P. Henson really knows how to pull off being simultaneously serious and funny. The music in the movie, while excellent, was a bit jarring sometimes. It didn’t always match what was happening.
This is also a tale of redemption. At the beginning of the movie, C.P. Ellis was one of the most loyal members of the Klu Klux Klan. He wouldn’t serve black people at his gas station, even though he knew they would bring more business. Once he and Ann Atwater are selected to lead the debate about school integration, however, he begins to see that black people aren’t inherently bad or inferior. And when his friends in the Klan still carry out their racist deeds, he stands up for the black community.
This movie is an excellent example of how two people from different communities can come together and set aside their differences. It’s definitely a movie that will make the audience think about the extent of racism, because the movie shoves it right in the audience’s face. There’s no ignoring it. But there is a lesson to be learned: nothing is as simple as it seems.