Jack Reynor

Kathryn Bigelow confronts a horrific chapter of American history in the searing, vital ‘Detroit’

Kathryn Bigelow confronts a horrific chapter of American history in the searing, vital ‘Detroit’

Near the beginning and the end of “Detroit,” Kathryn Bigelow’s tense, excruciating and entirely necessary new film, a young Motown performer named Larry Reed (beautifully played by Algee Smith) raises his head and croons to the heavens with heart-swelling abandon. First he sings of love on an enormous stage; later he sings of peace in a small church. Both times his voice lifts you to the rafters, offering a rare intimation of grace in a movie of overwhelming human ugliness, set in a world where love and peace can feel as distant as justice.

That world, as we hardly need reminding, is very much our own. With a panoramic docudrama sweep that gives way to the disquieting intimacy of...

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