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‘Black or White’ offers perspective on gray areas of race and family

By Rajanae Hudson

Eloise works on homework with her grandfather in 'Black or White.' Photo courtesy of
Eloise (Jillian Estell) works on homework with her grandfather (Kevin Costner) in ‘Black or White.’
Photo courtesy of

The movie “Black or White” is interesting  to watch because of how the scenes and plot move from past to present and then back and forth between characters. The story takes the audience through the suspenseful custody battle between Reggie (Andre Holland), the African-American father of Eloise, a biracial 8-year-old girl (Jillian Estell), and Elliot, her maternal grandfather (Kevin Costner).  

In the movie Eloise’s mom died at age 17  when she was giving birth.  After she died, Eloise’s father tried to raise her by himself with the help of a family friend who acted as a grandma. This woman told Eloise’s grandfather, Elliot, about things that were going on with Eloise which made him want to fight for custody.  Eloise didn’t want to be with her real father because he was treating her badly. He physically threatened her and wasn’t respecting her. She moved into Elliot’s home when he was given custody of her.

Most of the film involves Eloise and Elliot. In a scene that defines the movie’s plot,Elliot is visiting Eloise at her father’s house, and he doesn’t  like the neighborhood or the way she is living. He knows that somehow he can change her life and he wants her to be in a safer place where she can feel good. She is unhappy at home with her father and his girlfriend. Elliot wonders how he can  have custody of Eloise and he is trying to persuade her father to his point of view, that no matter what race you are, you can take care of anybody.

What’s best about this movie is that it tells you how some people understand how to make another person’s life better and that it doesn’t matter what race you are. The characters in “Black or White” understand this too, and that not all people have rights to the custody of their own children.

Jillian Estelle’s portrayal of Eloise is good because she shows that a little girl is smart and can make her own choices about herself and knows what best for herself. Costner plays his role well. He shows that he can change a person’s life.  No matter where they come from, their situation can get better. The script is suspenseful because it gets people’s attention, especially in the court scenes.

People will like this movie because it is understandable and you can follow where the characters are coming from.You should see this movie because it helps you know that people don’t care what race they are, it just matters for them that they can be happy with the people they care about.

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