Category Archives: TWSM Entertainment Review

Bring Your Tissues To See ‘Just Mercy’

The new film Just Mercy chronicles the true story of lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) as he fights for wrongly convicted inmate Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) on death row. Jordan delivers a solid performance as Stevenson, who graduates from Harvard and immediately moves to Alabama to provide free legal assistance to death row inmates. When Stevenson meets McMillian and hears his story, Stevenson cannot forget about the case and knows that McMillian is innocent. Stevenson vows to free McMillian and begins the arduous journey of uncovering the truth (and gross corruption) about how McMillian got to death row. With help from his assistant Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), Stevenson fights to exonerate McMillian and others awaiting their fate. 

While Jordan and Foxx give fantastic performances, the true beauty comes from the performances of two supporting actors, Tim Blake Nelson, and Rob Morgan. Nelson’s work as the physically deformed, convicted felon Ralph Meyers was truly stunning, and will no doubt stick with viewers long after the credits roll. Nelson fully transforms as he twitches, stutters, and emotes his way through a challenging character. Somehow, he demands sympathy from the audience for a character who might not deserve it.

Morgan, on the other hand, turns in a breathtaking rendering of his character, Herbert Richardson, a PTSD-stricken war vet fighting for a stay of execution. His last scenes were the most gut-wrenching, yet fascinating, that I’ve seen in a while.

Just Mercy gives viewers a deeper look into how racism seeps into our justice system to this day. I had to remind myself multiple times that the film (and the case itself) didn’t take place in the 50s or during the Civil Rights Movement, but rather from 1987-1993, just two years before I was born. It is easy for some to believe that the days of racism and police corruption are just far-off stories in our history books, but learning about Walter McMillian’s story should remind audiences that the work is far from over. Bryan Stevenson has not forgotten, and he’s stayed hard at work fighting these injustices through his nonprofit organization, The Equal Justice Initiative (or EJI). For more information on EJI, visit https://eji.org/about/

Viewers may not leave Just Mercy feeling overwhelming happiness or joy. But, hopefully, they’ll leave having learned something. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll want to join the fight for a better tomorrow.

~Katie

Almost Family Leaves Us with Two Major Cliffhangers

If you haven’t been keeping up with FOX’s new series Almost Family, you should be. The show, adapted from an Australian version of the same moniker, follows Julia Bechley (Brittany Snow), a young woman who finds out her father, Dr. Leon Bechley (Timothy Hutton), went rogue at his Fertility clinic. For years, he used his own…specimen to impregnate his clients. The scenario is a bit far-fetched (and honestly, kind of creepy), but the show brings enough heart to overcome the unsavory plotline.

Soon after learning about her father’s choices, Julia starts the search for her siblings and bonds with her new sisters: childhood friend Edie (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and former Olympic gymnast, Roxy (Emily Osment). Throughout the last few episodes, each girl has been dealing with her own life chaos, until a midseason finale where some shocking twists were revealed. Spoiler alert: don’t keep reading if you want to start binging from the beginning (all episodes are available on Hulu!).

In the last few episodes, viewers were glad to see that Roxy entered rehab for her addiction to pills and came out with a newfound strength that propelled her to publicly accuse her past gymnastics coach, Nick (Jeff Hephner) of sexual assault. We’ve also seen Edie struggling with her decision to leave her husband, Tim (Mo McRae), for her rival lawyer, Amanda (Victoria Cartagena). But Julia takes the cake here, dealing with the newfound revelation that Leon is not her father. Whew.

The newest episode brought even more drama into the mix, leaving viewers with the Julia and Edie cliffhangers. Edie randomly hooks up with Tim again, which will no doubt have immense repercussions in her continuing to DTR with Amanda. Julia visits the dance studio her mom used to frequent and gets lost in the music. The episode ends with a shot of a man’s feet strolling into the studio watching Julia dance, but the audience does not get a clue as to who it may be.

Some viewers may think the mystery man is Donovan (Michael Stahl-David), who Julia had just amicably broken up with, but some are skeptical. The mystery man was wearing slacks and dress shoes, a look that Donovan never sported.

Although this show may seem like a soap-opera, with far-fetched storylines and high stakes, the performances are anything but cheesy. As someone who grew up watching Emily Osment and Brittany Snow, it’s nice to see them gracing the television screen once again. The writing of the show never seems too on the nose, and the show has pleasantly surprised viewers. If you’re looking for an easy watch, Almost Family provides the drama and just enough laughs to keep you hanging on for the next twist in the girls’ chaotic lives. At the forefront, the show is about family….however that may look. You can catch Almost Family on Wednesdays at 9/8c on FOX, or on next day streaming with Hulu.

~Katie