Taraji P. Henson continues to build an impressive career through varied and dynamic performances. She can lead different kinds of projects including dramas like “Hidden Figures” or comedies like “What Men Want” set for an early 2019 release. Henson already has an Oscar nomination, and with “Empire” winding down, she’s about to have more time on her hands. Henson will lead “The Best of Enemies” in April next year against an Oscar-winning actor in Sam Rockwell. The two will face off in 1970s Durham, North Carolina as integration takes center stage.
Henson plays Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist who pushed for school integration and the War on Poverty for decades. Rockwell takes on the character of C.P. Ellis, a leader in the Ku Klux Klan and president of the Durham branch. The two are placed on a task force to desegregate the schools of Durham, which leads to infighting on the committee. However, as time wore on, each of the leaders realized their similarities and commonalities. The story echoes other Civil Rights films, but the dynamic between Henson and Rockwell adds an extra flair to this story.
Both Henson and Rockwell appear to be in strong form for the film. Henson delivers rollicking speeches and fights back when being disrespected. Rockwell ups his sliminess level, delivering a performance that feels similar in tone to his award-winning role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” from last year. Yet there’s a soft nature to his character, even a reluctance, that can be seen from the early moments in the trailer. While this does not look like an Oscar film due to its fairly basic story, this could become a crowd pleaser. That’s likely what STX hopes will come to pass here.