Review by Adam Donato
Sidney Poitier is an absolute icon of cinema. He really is a trailblazer as he was doing things that weren’t normal for the time. Reginald Hudlin, television director whose most notable feature is House Party, takes the viewer on a journey back through the history of one of the greatest actors of all time, from his early life up until his decision to retire from acting. Along for the ride are some of the most influential Black artists of recent time, most notably Oprah and Denzel Washington. Does Sidney do justice to the likeness of an esteemed artist?
For the uninitiated, Sidney does a swell job of highlighting the life and career of Sidney Poitier. It helps that he was alive during the making of the movie to be interviewed. Seeing the man on screen in all his glory is pretty emotional. There’s a plethora of family members present throughout so the documentary does a great job of giving personal insight into not only the headlining events, but also first hand experience. Many of the interviewees involved get very emotional throughout which adds to the gravity of his impact on the people closest to him. The big stars that have significant roles go a long way to adding some gravitas to the presentation.
One of the filmmaking aspects that stand out in the documentary is in the editing. The story is framed almost in chapters separated by the big movies in his career. It’s clear throughout where in his life the story currently is, complete with key footage from the movie being discussed. Obviously, Poitier was a big player in the Civil Rights movement and the most interesting part of the story is his impact on the movement, especially since there was some nuance in the way that the Black community perceived Poitier. It’s as heartbreaking to see people misinterpret the intentions of Poitier as it is joyous to see the positive and lasting impression he had on other people.
Sidney Poitier is an icon in front of the camera, behind the camera, and even when there is no camera. Sidney does a splendid job of showcasing who the man was to the public and to the people closest to him. There’s a great deal of hardship present as the time he lived in was a contentious one to say the least, but overall this is a feel good story that celebrates his life. This is an important story about an important man everyone should look up to. Make sure to check Sidney out on Apple TV+ for an integral history lesson.
Sidney streams on Apple TV+ beginning September 23.
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