Dir John Lee Hancock US (PG15)
It’s a true story: rich southern white folks take in a black teenager and help him towards college football and a big-time NFL contract. In the right hands, this could be about simple kindness overcoming mutual suspicion and bridging social divides. But this is not that movie.
Quite how Sandra Bullock deserved an Oscar for her one-note turn as bleached supermum Leigh-Anne is a mystery, since it transforms a potentially worthwhile character study into a grandstanding star vehicle. There’s no way this is a real person. It’s Sandra Bullock doing her thing.
On the other hand, Michael (Quinton Aaron), the troubled outcast to whom she gives a stable home, is hard to read, beyond ‘gentle giant’ cultural clichés. Director Hancock lends the proceedings a certain entertainment value, yet the whole approach (in marked contrast to, say, Precious) is about putting white middle-class compassion proudly centre-stage. A half-truth, a half-story, surely?