Sidney movie review & Film summary (2022)

This comprehensive and conventional documentary pays tribute to Sidney Poitier.


Sidney Poitier was one of the most gifted and talented actors in the history of cinema. He set a new standard for Black actors in Hollywood as a leading man, becoming the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Lilies of the Field (1963). He acted in the Golden Age of Hollywood, became a key figure in the civil rights movement, served as a diplomat, and directed and produced highly successful films. Through it all he became husband to two wives, the mothers of his six daughters. Sidney the documentary takes viewers through the life and career of Sidney Poitier in his own words, through narration captured in an in-depth interview conducted by producer Oprah Winfrey, and in the words of his family, friends and those whose lives he influenced most.

The actor and director Sidney Poitier, the subject of the documentary “Sidney.”Credit…Bob Adelman/Apple TV+

“Sidney,” a documentary about the late actor and director Sidney Poitier, is a collection of hero worship. Poitier passed away in January. Although Reginald Hudlin is the director, Oprah Winfrey is at her best in this beautifully put together encomium in terms of tone and emotion. Winfrey exudes emotional sincerity in her role as one of the movie’s producers and a personal friend of Poitier, whom she refers to as her “great Black hope.” It’s not entirely surprising, but her collapse at the end is shockingly emotional.

Poitier (speaking mostly in a 2012 interview with Winfrey) softly addresses the camera, consistently modest and supremely calm, seemingly unaware of the film’s fire hose of praise and thicket of talking heads. Hudlin is surrounded by a life that, in Poitier’s opinion, has lived up to the prophecies made by the soothsayer his mother consulted when it was thought he wouldn’t make it past infancy. Poitier discovered that acting was therapy and a way to express the various personalities roiling inside him after leaving the poverty of the Bahamas for Jim Crow-era America. He claimed to be barely literate at the time and confused by segregation. (Much later, in order to understand his love affair with the stunning Diahann Carroll, he would need years of genuine counselling.)

ainstakingly thorough, “Sidney” examines a career loaded with political and social significance; however, the film’s long list of firsts—including Poitier becoming the first Black leading man to win an Oscar for best actor and the first Black director to make a $100 million film—did not dissuade those who would later charge that Poitier had played to white audiences. Hudlin works hard to explain the significance of Poitier’s civil rights advocacy and his audacious acting choices to Black Americans: The man who had grown up without ever seeing a mirror was now charged with reflecting Black lives back to a crowd eager for acknowledgment.

Unavoidably, one is left with the sensation that the image is collapsing under the weight of its subject’s accomplishments. However, there are times when the movie loses its hagiographic constraints and the focus changes: The tart, mischievous comments of interviewees like Denzel Washington and Spike Lee; Lulu, the Scottish pop star singing the theme from “To Sir, With Love” (1967), her pipes barely corroded; Juanita Brady, Poitier’s first wife, explaining how she gave her inexperienced husband critical financial advice, even selling her mink coat to invest in “A Raisin in the Sun,” the stage play in which he starred.

These interludes act like lemon juice squirted on heavy cream, brief reagents in a movie that, despite the meticulousness of its making, seems a peculiarly orthodox tribute to a revolutionary life.


Release Date September 23,2022 (United States)
Countries of OriginCanada . United States
Peoduction companiesApple Studio . Digital Thunderdrom . Harpo Productions
Runtime 1 hour 51 mintues

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