Film Review Marshall

Josh Gad, from left, Chadwick Boseman and Sterling K. Brown star in "Marshall."

Open Road Films

What the heck does Chadwick Boseman have to do to become a household word?

He’s my favorite “new” performer at the moment. Except he’s far from new, really – it’s just that too few people are acquainted with this incredible actor who is the star of “Marshall.” No, it’s not about a football team – it’s about the early years of Thurgood Marshall, long before he became the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

This entertaining biopic also is somewhat of a mystery tale as attorney Marshall becomes involved in a difficult case.

The story is set in the 1940s when, Marshall, a lawyer for the NAACP, is dispatched to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where a high-profile case is about to unfold in court. A wealthy woman named Eleanor Strubling (Kate Hudson) claims she has been sexually assaulted by her African-American chauffeur Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown, known for television’s “This is Us.”) The driver claims he is innocent of assaulting her and then driving her to a local bridge where she claims her threw her into the water.

The case has far-reaching repercussions. Some employers are going so far as to fire their African-American servants for the sake of “safety.”

Because Marshall isn’t a member of the Connecticut bar, he is joined by a Jewish lawyer named Sam Friedman (Josh Gad, “Beauty and the Beast.”) Friedman’s specialty is insurance cases, compared to Marshall, who has argued cases in front of the U. S. Supreme Court. When the judge won’t allow Marshall to speak in court, he is forced to allow Friedman to do all the talking.

Boseman is wonderful as Marshall. That’s not surprising, because before this he brought to life two other well-known people: baseball player Jackie Robinson in “42” and musician James Brown in “Get On Up” (both these films are well worth seeing, just in case you haven’t.) He gives Marshall the intense, restrained quality of a man of a man who thinks before he speaks – a man whose words transcend prejudice and hate.

Marshall and Friedman are quite a pair, and the actors portraying have great chemistry, especially in the numerous courtroom scenes where Marshall is allowed to do anything but speak and during their discussions of those involved in the trial – just what did happen to the woman? This is an entertaining courtroom drama that also provides character studies of Marshall and Friedman.

Soon, we’ll see Boseman again as Black Panther, one of the characters in the Marvel Universe. And maybe soon he’ll be the household name he already has earned with his outstanding talent.