On Sky Cinema and various VOD platforms.
Wriiten and directed by Channing Godfrey People and stars Nicole Beharie as Turquoise Jones, a former Miss Juneteenth, whose life has never quite matched what it promised. She now finds herself trying to instil the same ambition to win the prestigious pageant into her 15 year old daughter Kai, Alexis Chikaeze. All while trying to balance a tough life of financial hardship, endless work and constant let down from those closest to her.
Miss Juneteenth can be a difficult watch, but that is also its strength. Turquoise’s life is tough, there are few to rely on, a religious zealot mother, an untrustworthy estranged husband, but the difficulties are countered by her desire to make it better and drive to make sure Kai’s life doesn’t repeat the same cycle.
We also see the consequence of that drive, most notably with Kai who doesn’t share her Mum’s dream and has no real interest in the pageant, she’d rather dance and is frustrated as her dreams are ignored.
But in amongst this we see the strength of community, there is support and a sense of family. As well as a daughter who understands what her mother is sacrificing for her and looks to meet her and her mothers ambition.
While life is clearly hard, the real success of Miss Juneteenth is that it builds characters who you care about, I wanted to see Turquoise succeed and Kai given the room to grow and sometimes that’s all you want in a film an emotional engagement and characters to care about.
The warmth for the characters comes from the writing and fine performances, Beharie is excellent carrying the bulk of the film with warmth and vulnerability. Chikaeze’s Kai and Kendrick Sampson as her father Ronnie also offer good support.
Miss Juneteenth is tough going at times, but that’s what life can be like for many, but importantly it never feels sorry for itself and has a real warmth and heart that engaged me and gave me characters to care about and ultimately a positive story to enjoy.