Parents' Guide to

The Best of Enemies

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Well-intentioned but one-sided race drama has iffy messages.

Movie PG-13 2019 133 minutes
The Best of Enemies Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 8+

African American women in 1971?

I am an African American woman who grew up in South Carolina during that time period. I believe that the film is basically accurate but my problem is the portrayal of Ann Atwater. I know many strong and determined women who pushed for racial equality. I just couldn't relate to or feel this character who should have been about my Mother's age. She seldom smiled. She always appeared angry. I don't believe I saw any other woman in the movie with an Afro. To be sure, Afros began to be worn in the late 60's but it took a while for them to travel south, particularly for older women. I went to college in Pennsylvania and when I came home with an Afro in 1969, my mother had a fit (though about 5 years later, she was sporting a beautiful Afro). I only say that to note that she just didn't seem to fit in in with that community at that time, nor did I see her working with other women, which is what community activists do. I looked at pictures of Ms Atwater. She did not appear to have a "bra problem." I felt that Taraji's appearance as Ann Atwater was somewhat of a caricature of black women. I'm sorry. I commend any effort to provide positive historical and current stories of African Americans, but I just couldn't feel this one.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
1 person found this helpful.
age 12+


I loved the movie -- I've seen it 5 times already. Great acting, and, as Hollywood goes, mostly accurate. I am the filmmaker who made the documentary, An Unlikely Friendship about the same two people, If you want to see the real pair tell the story in their own words see:
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4):
Kids say (1):

This unlikely friendship story would have been better off as a documentary. There's no doubt that the "true story" nature of Atwater and Ellis' friendship is compelling, and the few minutes at the very end featuring footage of the late Ann and C.P. will make audiences wish they could hear more from the pair's families about not only the 10 days that led to their friendship but also the years that followed. But in telling the story of The Best of Enemies, the filmmakers made the head-scratching decision to focus more on developing Klansman Ellis' humanity than to treat both characters as equals -- which is hard to justify. Instead of feeling like a movie about both of these people, the movie concentrates on making sure audiences somehow feel sympathetic with the card-carrying KKK president. Meanwhile, Henson's outspoken Ann is reduced to being the catalyst for C.P.'s "I don't hate all black people" epiphany.

It's not that Ann doesn't get some inspiring speeches, but the amount of time devoted to her family life is limited compared to C.P.'s time -- so much so that one of the longest scenes in Ann's house is shared with C.P.'s wife, Mary (Anne Heche), who seems to tolerate her husband's Klan activities but isn't overtly racist (aside from being married to the local Exalted Cyclops of the KKK). Ceesay also gives a noteworthy performance as the mediator in charge of the community charrette, and Wes Bentley is chilling as C.P.'s friend and deputy. The problem here isn't the actors, who are notable, but the film's inadequacy in capturing more than one side of a real-life friendship.

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