Black or White | Film review - Kevin Costner vs Octavia Spencer in biracial custody battle

Black or White Jillian Estell Kevin Costner.jpg
(Image credit: © Signature Entertainment/© 20)
(Image credit: © Signature Entertainment/© 20)

Reeling from his wife’s death in a car crash, Kevin Costner’s LA lawyer Elliot finds himself in a battle for custody of his 7-year-old biracial granddaughter Eloise (sparky Jillian Estell) with her black paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) in this well-intentioned, well-acted melodrama.

Inspired by events in his family’s life, writer-director Mike Binder goes out of his way to be even-handed in Black or White, scrupulously drawing parallels between Elliot’s drinking problem and the crack addiction of Eloise’s estranged father (André Holland), for example, and contrasting the bustling industry of Spencer’s entrepreneurial matriarch with Elliot’s grief-stricken torpor.

But even if the script isn’t always subtle, Costner makes his flawed protagonist vividly real.

Certificate 12. Runtime 117 mins. Director Mike Binder

Black or White is available from Signature Entertainment on Digital HD from Monday 14th December.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.