Marshall, rated PG-13
Marshall is a well-acted film inspired by true events. It primarily tells the story of a 1941 case that future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther, 42, Get on Up) tried for the NAACP. The film is directed by Oscar nominee Reginald Hudlin (Django Unchained) and written by the father/son screenwriting team of Michael and Jacob Koskoff.
Marshall is sent by the NAACP to Connecticut to defend Joseph Spell, played by Sterling K. Brown (This is Us). Brown is a chauffeur that has been accused of raping and attempting to kill his employer Eleanor Strubing, played by Oscar nominee Kate Hudson (Almost Famous). Because Marshall is from out of state, he asks Jewish insurance lawyer Sam Friedman, played by Josh Gad (Frozen), to take the case and have Marshall join the defense team. However, Judge Foster, played by Oscar nominee James Cromwell (Babe), has a personal relationship with the father of prosecuting attorney Loren Willis, played by Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), and will not allow Marshall to speak in court, indicating that only lawyers licensed to practice law in Connecticut can argue in his courtroom. This unexpected turn of events results in Friedman, who has never tried a criminal case, having to do the work in the courtroom, with Marshall preparing him to argue before the all-white jury. Note: the real Friedman was an experienced criminal lawyer.
Marshall is not sure he believes Brown’s story, and tells him that he will not defend someone who is guilty. Brown has a checkered past to say the least, while the woman he is alleged to have attacked is a wealthy, respected, church going member of the community.
The film focuses a lot on the relationship between the black Marshall and the Jewish Friedman. I especially appreciated the scene in which Friedman quotes Scripture and realizes he’s acting as Aaron to Marshall’s Moses.
We see how Marshall’s important work as an attorney for the NAACP, which results in frequent absences from home, has an impact on Marshall’s wife Buster, played by Keesha Sharp.
The film is rated PG-13 for adult themes (rape), some adult language, including the “n-word”, and several abuses of God’s name. There is also some sexuality included, though nothing explicit is shown.
Marshall is a well-acted film about a small part of Thurgood Marshall’s life. (Chadwick Boseman should receive an Academy Award!) The film portrays that Marshall, who would go on to become the first Black Supreme Court justice, was friends with poet Langston Hughes and author Zora Neale Hurston.
Near the end of the film Marshall is sent to Mississippi to defend a 14-year-old boy accused of killing a policeman. At the train station he’s greeted by Z. Alexander Looby (Benjamin Crump), and the boy’s parents, played by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s parents. Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old boy, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in February 2012.