Cert 15 Stars 4
A fraught mother and daughter relationship is at the heart of this wonderful bittersweet drama of empowerment and resilience, anchored by Nicole Beharie who delivers a performance of remarkable range.
As Turquoise Jones, Beharie’s a single mother and former teen beauty queen who enters her 15-year-old daughter in the local pageant, the winner of which is crowned Miss Juneteenth, and receives a full scholarship to university.
Alexis Chikaeze plays the reluctant Kai with all too believable disinterest, and has little interest in following in her mother’s footsteps down the catwalk of the African American beauty pageant, which recognises the day the slaves of Texas found out they were free, fully two years after Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation.
Written with clear-eyed observation and empathy by Channing Godfrey Peoples on an accomplished feature directorial debut, she crams in a great deal of social comment and friction with precision and economy.
Turquoise’s own mother offers another area of all realistic inter-generational conflict, however there’s a welcome note of optimism at the end to add an emotional flourish to the terrific soundtrack.