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"Rustin": A Movie Review


Blurb:  Activist Bayard Rustin faces racism and homophobia as he helps change the course of Civil Rights history by orchestrating the 1963 March on Washington.


Colman Domingo

Gus Halper

Aml Ameen

Glynn Turman

CCH Pounder

Johnny Ramey

Directed by:  

George C. Wolfe

Written by: 

Julian Breece and

Dustin Lance Black

From a story by Julian Breece


Wow a powerful movie, and how glad I am to have watched it. This is a terrific film, committed to telling the story one of the biggest African American demonstrations in history. What's more, it is told through "the story of the charismatic, gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin."


I knew that Martin Luther King Jr had a gay man as a friend an important part of staff, but I had no idea how important he was. More than once I was brought to tears.


"Despite incredible odds, he managed to organize the March on Washington in 1963. This event is considered one of the high points of the civil rights movement in the United States. Over 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and called for an end to racial discrimination in the USA."


I loved how this movie unwaveringly let us know that it was a gay man that made this happen and wasn't afraid to show us his love of men, and proud of who he was, and believed he was gay from birth.


(I also didn't know that it was this demonstration where Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the event)


I am ashamed of all I didn't know, and I know I will be reading more.


But the absolute best thing about this movie was the performance of Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin, and I would be more than happy if he won his nomination for Best Actor. His is easily one of the best acting jobs I've seen this season.


Where the movie fails once we reach the demonstration, which we see almost none of, the movie just ends, quite abruptly. There's so much we don't find out, and isn't resolved.




We see Rustin in two relationships. One with a white man named Tom Kahn (Gus Halper), who is very much in love with Rustin, but whom Rustin isn't ready to commit love. And the other is a man named Elias Taylor (Johnny Ramey), who Rustin is finding himself falling in love with, but who is a Reverend about to take over a church, and who is married, and she's about to have a baby. Elias cannot accept his own homosexuality. “Elias Taylor is one of few fictional characters in Rustin: A composite of the closeted lovers Rustin encountered, and a symbol of the struggle some queer people experience while reconciling religion with sexual orientation.”


We also don't find out a lot about the demonstration, including why no women speakers were allowed to speak. This frustrated me deeply. I expect more from Dustin Lance Black, one of the two screenwriters, but who knows if it was his decision?


I just felt as if the movie simply ended and expected more. Deserved more, even if it didn't resolve everything. That's not life after all. Not everything is resolved.


In the end, I recommend this movie for all we learn by watching it, the important history that we learn, and most of all, Colman Domingo performance. The pluses far outweigh any flaws. Recommended.



Warning: The following is a complete synopsis of the movie. It's nothing but spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Sadly, for some reason, this film doesn't have a detailed synopsis of Rustin at Wikipedia.

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I had hoped the movie would be better written and directed but Colman is riveting.


The OUTside voices LGBT chorus sang a concert about this man. last week.

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Oh, wow! How cool!

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