ORIGIN Is An Intiguing Film, But Would’ve Been A Better Television Mini-Series

Journalist Isabel Wilkerson had taken a hiatus from her work to deal with some personal matters but was inspired by the killing of Trayvon Martin to further examine racism in America and how it was influenced by and influenced other forms of prejudice in the world. Director Ana DuVernay directs this adaptation of Wilkeson’s book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, but also includes some of Wilkerson’s personal experiences. While I found the portrayal of Wilkerson’s study of prejudice fascinating and insightful, DuVernay’s mixture of Wilkerson’s work and her personal struggles disjointed her overall film.

Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor stars as journalist Isabel Wilkerson, an intelligent and moderately successful journalist whose first book, The Warmth of Other Suns, gained her more notoriety for her talent. However, after this achievement of success, Wilkerson must deal with the health issues of her elderly other Ruby (Emily Yancy), maintaining a loving marriage with her husband and witnessing the declining health of her older cousin, Marion (Niecy Nash).

Isabel is offered the opportunity to deliver another remarkable work when her former editor, Amari Selvan (Blair Underwood), brings her attention to the shocking killing of Trayvon Martin (Myles Frost). After further investigation, Isabel finds herself driven to examine the roots of prejudice in our world and how she perceives it as a caste system with links to both the Holocaust and the caste system in India.

Overall, I found this movie to be incredibly fascinating and compelling. However, the presentation of both Wilkerson’s studies and the troubles in her personal life was very disjointed. The film jumps back and forth between Isabel Wilkerson’s investigation of prejudice in the world and her familial troubles. While I felt moved and emotionally related to what Isabel went through, DuVernay did not blend the two experiences well.

After watching this movie, I realized this story would have been better adapted in a mini-series where all the bases could have been covered thoroughly. Isabel Wilkerson’s story and experience are just as crucial to her work to examine prejudice, caste, and racism intelligently and are impacted by her life as a Black woman. Unfortunately, the jumping back and forth is usually jarring in the movie and takes away from both stories.

The film has an excellent cast, with Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor performing tremendously as Isabel Wilkerson. Ellis-Taylor puts much genuine heart into her role and passionately expresses Wilkerson’s appropriate emotions as she works and deals with the troubles at home. The movie also has some great supporting turns by Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash, Emily Yancy, Finn Wittrock, Victoria Pedretti, Jasmine Cephas-Jones, and others.

Regardless of its flaws, Origin is still an enlightening and educational movie that everyone should watch. It delivers a mostly engrossing examination of prejudice in the world and how all its various forms are interconnected. After watching this film, I would love to read the book that inspired it because I believe there is much more to this story than what is revealed in Ana DuVernay’s adaptation.

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