“Antebellum” (Lionsgate)

Janelle Monae stars in a scene from the movie "Antebellum." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS/Lionsgate)

By Catholic News Service

What seems at first to be a historical drama centered on the horrific experiences of an enslaved woman (Janelle Monae) and two of her peers (Tongayi Chirisa and Kiersey Clemons) on a Louisiana cotton plantation (run by Eric Lange and Jack Huston) appears later to be only an extended nightmare in the mind of a present-day social justice activist (also Monae).

But the plot takes a subsequent turn designed to make writer-directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz’s film a gloss on contemporary political divides. Far-fetched and ham-fisted, their grim fantasy is also tainted by a pursuit of revenge that viewers committed to Christian values will recognize as appealing to its audience’s worst impulses.

Harsh gory violence, including torture and a brief scene of semi-graphic rape, a vengeance theme, a few profanities, a couple of milder oaths, considerable rough language, a half-dozen crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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