Fundamentally flawed narrative wastes talented cast

There are many ways “Antebellum” goes wrong. It’s half a movie, and it’s not a horror film. It’s certainly not a credible satire either.

Let’s get this out fo the way: white people are the villain in “Antebellum.” The story begins in an Old South setting, and as the name of the film tells us, it’s a time before the Civil War. Slaves toil in the hot sun picking cotton, and a desperate, fleeing couple is chased and abused by evil plantation owners.

A black man, outfitted with a cumbersome, iron collar, fruitlessly reaches out for his beloved female partner as she is roped, viciously drug, and shot dead. It’s unpleasant viewing, to be sure.

There are not good people on both sides in the “Antebellum” world we see on screen.

These early scenes are compelling. No matter how many times we see images of intolerable cruelty, it resonates. We are reminded of America’s original sin, the legacy of which still plagues our nation. Then the script from co-directors, Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, tips its hand. A jet airplane passes overhead.

Was the gripping, sorrowful drama we just witnessed a joke, a clever pantomime? Or was there a mistake made while filming, and the production thought, let’s leave the plane in the shot? Better yet, let’s build the entire film around it.

Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in the Times-Herald:

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