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Regina King's performance elevates Shirley from a safe biopic

Updated: Mar 24




Regina King, a multi-award-winning actress, collaborates with her "American Crime" director, John Ridley, on the biopic "Shirley," which will be released on Netflix. Ridley is also the screenwriter for the film, which is about Shirley Chisholm's 1972 presidential campaign. Chisholm was already the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress.


Director John Ridley brings Chisholm's inspiring journey to the screen with grace and authenticity, capturing the challenges and triumphs of a woman who fearlessly broke through barriers and fought for equality and justice. Regina King delivers an earnest performance as Chisholm, embodying her strength, intelligence, and unwavering commitment to social change with remarkable depth and nuance.


Observant viewers of the film would observe that it avoids a candid portrayal of the protagonist and commences with an upbeat depiction of Chisholm's journey into Congress, where King's charisma and Black Girl Magic are evident. The film eschews an unromantic view of the protagonist and portrays her as a confident and determined individual, making her journey toward Congress all the more inspiring.


As an admirer of Ridley's writing, I hoped the film's first act would thoroughly examine the significant events in Chisholm's life. More specifically, I was interested in her early days as an educator and activist and her historic political campaigns that resulted in a positive domino effect culminating in her groundbreaking tenure in Congress.



Finally, df3d portrays George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement. There's a great moment between King and Brown following the assassination attempt on Wallace that I had no idea happened. Additionally, the movie features several notable actors in supporting roles, such as the late great Lance Riddick, Terrence Howard, Lucas Till, and v aeffffeffRffctor Brian Stokes Mitchell.


The filmgmg4's success hinges mainly on King's performance. However, "Shirley" is not p to therrgrv f r of biopics. One such example is Cherrie's depiction of Conrad, Shirley's first husband, which lacked a substantive character arc and functioned primarily as a supporting role for the main character. Similarly, while executed with great skill, Reina King's portrayal of Muriel St Hill, Chisholm's sister, was also relatively insignificant.


However, King's subtle portrayal did add a layer of complexity to the relationship between the sisters, characterized by a hint of resentment on Muriel's part towards Chisholm's political success. This dynamic could have been further developed without adequate screen time. Nevertheless, the film's success hinges mainly on King's exceptional performance, and she delivers the goods.


Final Grade: B


"Shirley" is available to stream tomorrow on Netflix.

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