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A crucial battle in the long struggle for African-American equality is recreated compellingly in director Ava DuVernay's fact-based drama. With the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act behind him, President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) is anxious to concentrate on promoting the economic measures of his Great Society program. But Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) is equally determined to secure long-overdue access to the ballot for minority voters in the South. With Alabama, under its implacably segregationist governor, George Wallace (Tim Roth), continuing to resist such reform, King agrees to lead a long protest march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Screenwriter Paul Webb intersperses the inspiring rhetoric of the time with behind-the-scenes insights into heated debates over strategy among King and his associates, the constant threat of violence under which they were forced to live as well as the emotional burden placed on King's wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo) by her spouse's numerous infidelities. Given its historical value, the film is possibly acceptable for mature adolescents.

Watch out for: Some harsh violence, an adultery theme, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, a couple of rough terms, occasional crude and crass language.

Rated: A-III, adults; MPAA: PG-13, parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015