Before I get started, I want to let you know that there isn’t a Book of Clarence in the Bible.  Believe it or not, some people have asked that question. Also, while this is billed as a comedy you should watch the film with an open mind to see the realities of the subject.

Summary in the blink of an EYE: The year is 33 AD, the place Jerusalem. Clarence lives in the low end of Jerusalem with his mother. He is a hustler and has no respect for too much of anything.  He sells drugs and steals, he is an atheist and does not believe in anything he can’t see. He is convinced Jesus is performing tricks to gain followers. He and his homey and best friend Elijah set out to prove Jesus is a fake and he is the new Messiah.

Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield) and his mother (Marianne Raigipcien Jean-Baptiste} live in low-end Jerusalem. He has borrowed money from a loan shark, Jedediah the Terrible (Eric Kofi-Abrefa), and to pay him back he takes on Mary Magdalene (Teyana Taylor) in a chariot race, which he loses. Clarence also has another problem; he is also in love with Jedediah’s sister    Varinia (Anna Diop) who is out of his class.

Clarence’s twin brother Thomas ((LaKeith Stanfield), left home to follow the Messiah Jesus and is one of the twelve Apostles. Clarence gets the bright idea to become the 13th Apostle so he can learn all of Jesus’s “tricks” and make money to pay back his loan. Thomas is not very loving to his brother and feels Clarence is a low life, unreliable and he turns his back on Clarence as does the other Apostles. Judas Iscariot (Micheal Ward) challenges Clarence to do a good deed and free the enslaved gladiators to become an Apostle.  You can guess how that turns out.

Clarence decides he will be the new Messiah preaching knowledge over faith and by performing fake tricks he is quite successful.  He follows his path in this method but along the way discovers himself.

The casting in this film is spot on.  All the cast members except for the Romans are people of color with different accents. I loved this because it represented to me the various places Africans landed during the transatlantic slave trade then and now.

The Romans are all white and profile the people of low Jerusalem with false charges of crimes. Sound familiar?

Pontius Pilate (James McAvoy) and Clarence (Lakeith Stanfield) in THE BOOK OF CLARENCE.

Clarence is a man who does not know his worth and all his life people have reaffirmed to him that he is nothing, will never be anything, and does not deserve to excel or succeed in life.

Why I love this film:

The casting is genius. LaKeith Stanfield plays the duo roles of Clarence and his twin brother Thomas.  I have always liked LaKeith as an actor, after this film he ranks in my top 10. He takes us through Clarence’s journey with different levels of intensity that are not over the top but full of emotions.  His portrayal of his twin brother Thomas is so different from Clarence you believe they are two different people.

RJ Cyler is Clarence’s ride or die best friend.  RJ takes this role and without overshadowing gives Elijah his own story and his relationship to Clarence.

James McAvoy as Pontius Pilate is funny yet as a Roman leader has an edge. I got the feeling that even though he was supposed to crucify all people claiming to be the Messiah he would have let Clarence go.

One of the characters that didn’t get much promo attention is Jesus played smoothly by Nicholas Pinnock. I read that he was left out of pre-promos because the powers that be wanted the focus on Clarence.  It worked!

One of the scenes that is so well done is the crucifixion scene and Clarence carrying his cross to the Mount. It is powerful, serious, and reflective. 

Written, Directed, and Produced by Jeymes Samuel, The Book of Clarence is many layered and told very well. He touches on so many engrained issues of the Black community. One is if it’s white it’s right.

I suggest you see THE BOOK OF CLARENCE in the theaters.  Don’t compare Jesus’ timeline to Clarence.  To help you out Clarence finds his fate 3 days before Jesus makes the walk.

I give THE BOOK OF CLARENCE 4 winks out of 5 winks of the EYE

Until next time, keep your EYE to the sky!