Kevin Costner’s new film, Black and White, appears destined to create much controversy, and possibly inspire some real thought among its audience. The Wrap describes Costner’s film as follows:
“Black and White” centers on attorney Elliot Anderson (Costner), who’s raising his biracial granddaughter Eloise with his wife (their daughter died during childbirth). When his wife is killed in a car accident, the widower is drawn into a custody battle over the little girl, with her African-American grandmother Rowena (Spencer), who believes the child should be raised by her drug addicted, biological father.
The Wrap story reports, unsurprisingly, that Costner could not find any Hollywood studio that would invest in this film, so he financed it himself. The Wrap story paraphrases Costner’s costar, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help”), as saying that “the film explores many important topics, including race in America, child custody issues and the importance of a strong family unit.” It quotes her directly as saying, “We don’t like to discuss things that might be a little bit unnerving and uncomfortable … and Black and White deals with a lot of issues.”
The above-noted description of the film’s story line suggests that what Spencer says is quite true. It will be interesting to see whether the film generates any light along with the inevitable heated worry over whether it endangers the currently reigning cultural denial of the vastly different incidences of drug use, family breakdown,child neglect, personal violence, and other behavioral pathologies among different ethnic groups. If so, it could be a spark for some interesting and much-needed honest discussions.