Luce brings a stellar ensemble to bear on a satisfyingly complex story that addresses its timely themes in thought-provoking fashion.

It’s been ten years since Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted their son from war-torn Eritrea, and they thought the worst was behind them.

Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) has become an all-star student beloved by his community in Arlington, Virginia.

His African American teacher, Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer), believes he is a symbol of black excellence that sets a positive example for his peers.

But when he is assigned to write an essay in the voice of a historical twentieth-century figure, Luce turns in a paper that makes an alarming statement about political violence.

Worried about how this assignment reflects upon her star pupil, Harriet searches his locker and finds something that confirms her worst fears.

Naomi and Octavia merit Oscar nominations and great performances by newcomer Kelvin Johnson and Tim Roth. Very complex multi-layered drama crossing family, racial and gender stereotyping as well as a layer of teacher-student relationship set in challenging timeframe of adolescence. Great script and acting.

This earnest race drama occasionally flirts with turning into a sociopath thriller (think Us and Get Out). You’ll kind of wish it did.

R | 1h 49min | Drama | English subtitles