Son of the South has a very unique perspective on historical events with a socially relevant message. Even though yes, it has some odd structuring and a script that does not always flow naturally.
Being based on Bob Zellner’s autobiography “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek,” the film tells the story of a grandson of a Klansman who comes of age in the deep south. He eventually defies his family’s values and joins the Civil Rights Movement. With that movement, he helps fight against the social injustice, repression, and violence to change the world he was born into.
Right off the bat. the film jarringly opens with Bob Zellner (Lucas Till) brutally about to be hanged by a group of white supremacists. They wanted to hang him over a college paper he wrote with a group of his friends on racial relations. Then, no more than a few minutes later, it cuts to five months earlier with him at a bar with his fellow college students having a good time. That relatively happy scene follows another reminding us of one of the film’s conflicts. His college already wants to expel him for wanting to write that paper about racial differences. The film can move at a lightning speed. Sometimes, it doesn’t give you much time to fully take in what is being shown on screen because you are already in a completely different setting.
Frequent Spike Lee editing collaborator Berry Alexander does a fine job both directing and writing the script. The film looks good and has some nice cinematography. However, that doesn’t really do much to make it stand out from other films of its type. It really could have used a bigger sense of urgency although it pretty accurately captures the harshness of the 1960s United States. It also accurately captures the racial divisions of that time.
All around most of the acting is great with Lucas Till being the main highlight. He plays Bob Zellner with a nice amount of charm and he sympathizes towards what is going on around him. All of the decisions he makes to support the cause feel very natural and genuine. You really start to understand why this cause is so important to him and why it’s worth fighting for. Another really strong performance is from Nicole Ansari-Cox as a German professor at Bob’s college. She references what is going on during the film’s time period to Nazi cruelty back in World War Two.
The message here is truly a good one about standing up for what’s morally right and racial injustices, even if most of your race and family are completely against you. Which is what makes Son of The South definitely worth a watch. Even if yes, the script could have definitely used one more rewrite.
- Rated: PG-13
- Genre: Biography, Drama
- Release Date: 5/7/2021
- Directed by: Barry Alexander Brown
- Starring: Cedric The Entertainer, Cian Genaro, Jake Abel, Jim Klock, Lucas Till, Lucy Hale, Michael Sirow, Nicole Ansari-Cox
- Produced by: Dave Kamin, David Kang, Jerry Johnson, Michael Jefferson
- Written by: Barry Alexander Brown, Bob Zellner, Constance Curry
- Studio: Jaba Films, Lucidity Entertainment, Major Motion Pictures Ltd., One Dollar Studios, River Bend Pictures