As tensions grow in Laurens, South Carolina, as a group of Ku Klux Klan members decide to open a museum in honor of the Klan. They opened it in a formerly segregated movie theater. The head of the KKK in the area, Tom Griffin (Tom Wilkinson), knows that this will be a great recruiting tool. Which he and his right hand man Mike Burden (Garrett Hedlund) use to recruit new members and also terrorize the minority community. All in with the hope to provoke Reverend Kennedy (Forest Whitaker), a local minister who leads anti hate demonstrations. With local police on his side he thinks by provoking Kennedy he can run him out of town or get him in a position to be arrested or assassinated. But Kennedy continues to preach peace and love. But everything changes when Mike meets Judy (Andrea Riseborough) and instantly falls in love. The two fall for each other but Mike will soon have to make a life changing choice between staying in the KKK and being with the family he has always wanted. Can the power of love overcome a life lived only knowing hate? Mike’s choice will not only change his life but the lives of a community.

This film is first time writer and director Andrew Heckler and is based on a true story for the late 1990’s. The story has a powerful and inspiring message. The performances are good. Whittaker and Wilkinson give better than average performances. Garrett’s performance as the main character is good and bad, mostly I believe because of the person he was portraying, rather than his performance. There were also moments that really slowed the story down. The seriousness of the subject matter was really well told and brought you into the world of this moment in American history. The movie was a tad long for me but the flow of the film worked well.

I enjoyed the overall story, as I found it interesting and compelling. It definitely had an indie film feel and didn’t really need to be viewed on a big screen. Films like this I feel are important to remind us of the hate and bigotry that existed not so long ago and still today. The message of how love can overcome even the most extreme hatred is also super important in my humble opinion. I wouldn’t say it is the best movie I have seen this year but I think the story is worth hearing and seeing.

3 out of 5