Antebellum ★★

I’ve rarely seen a movie more artfully shoot itself in the foot than Antebellum does — repeatedly. It shoots its metaphoric toes; it busts its kneecaps. It bloody stumbles over the finish line only to scream “FUCK” and take a bulldozer to its own being (literally). If Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz’s well-intention movie is meant to end the plantation film once and for all? Good. But to do so, it resurrects it first in fourteen million dollar clothes. I’m not sure who needs that. I didn’t. It doesn’t sound like many did.

But to also be clear: this isn’t trash. There’s serious craft to this misfire. It has a “year’s best” shot, bar none. Janelle Monae confirms her movie star ascendance in the film’s first ten minutes and should be cast as such from here on out. If Bush and Renz can marry their skills to ideas which aren’t well-meant redundancy, they’ll be worth following. I hope they tell a story that doesn’t expose an already visible and festering root; I hope they plant the seeds of a new one.