Selma passes its true-life tests as a well-crafted tale

January 8, 2015 7:33 AM

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Given the vividness of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, voice, and legacy, it was hard to imagine anyone capturing a fraction of that presence on-screen. Surprisingly, Selma manages to ace its tricky true-life tests and operate as a thoughtful, well-crafted entertainment in its own right.

The film’s most obvious plus is in having England’s round-faced David Oyelowo as the key figure of the U.S. civil-rights struggle. But more was needed than verisimilitude, and fortunately the film—which had slipped through the hands of directors like Steven Spielberg and Spike Lee—ended up with Ava ...

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