Native son is a 2019 film based on the 1940’s novel of the same name by American author Richard wright. It follows the life of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, an African American youth living with his mother and siblings in utter poverty in a poor area of Chicago’s South Side in the 1930s. This version of the film is helmed by first time director Rashid Johnson; a conceptual artist. Working closely with a screenplay drafted by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, it stars Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Bill Camp and Sanaa Lathan.
In my opinion, Ashton Sanders does a fantastic job with his portrayal of Bigger Thomas despite the heavy backlash the film received from movie watchers all around the world. However, critics and movie experts seem to have a different opinion regarding the film. Some have praised it for its cultural relevance, political statement & complexity of the main character.
Jake Howell from Thefilmstage.com mentions that “Combined with Sanders’ moody swagger and Johnson’s inspired visual aesthetics, this script expands into something truly special. It may have moments where it feels unwieldy—like a runaway train gone off its tracks—but it never flags for one second. A movie this bold doesn’t dare lose momentum”.
Another reviewer Gregory Ellwood praised the movie for not shying away from being provocative. And this is truly a praise that is deserved, as today’s society would find almost anything and everything offensive therefore film makers have to choose their stories carefully in order not to upset ” the people”. He says:
“For every scene that doesn’t work there is another that’s spellbinding. It’s gutsy and provocative and, frankly, that’s a compliment you can’t give many independent films these days”.
In 1986, a live adaptation of the novel was made however it was received poorly by audiences ending up with $1,301,121 on a $2,000,000 budget.