NEON has dropped the trailer for Julius Onah's new film, Luce. The psychological drama-thriller stars Tim Roth and Naomi Watts (who previously shared the screen in the U.S. Funny Games) as a married couple who adopt a young boy from war-torn Eritrea as their son. Ten years later, their son, Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), has grown into an all-star high school athlete and debate student. However, when Luce's teacher (Octavia Spencer) makes a shocking discovery about her prized pupil, it forces everyone to determine whether he is or isn't the person they thought he was.
Directed by Onah (The Cloverfield Paradox) from a script he cowrote with J.C. Lee (based on the latter's stage play), Luce made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The film earned pretty strong reviews from its showing there, and was quickly acquired by NEON (I, Tonya; Vox Lux) for a theatrical run starting in August. Now, with the movie's release date just a couple months away, the studio is getting its official marketing campaign going with a trailer.
The Luce trailer is now online, and will begin screening in theaters over the forthcoming weeks. You can check it out in the space below.
The Luce trailer does a good job of establishing the film's taut mood, while at the same time introducing its primary conflict and characters. As seen here, it's Luce's teacher, Harriet Wilson, who comes to suspect her adored student is dangerous and disturbed in ways that no one else can see... though, on the other hand, the trailer suggests that Harriet may or may not be so trustworthy herself. By the look of things, Spencer delivers a strong performance here, to follow the Oscar-winner's great work in last week's horror film, Ma. Luce itself has generated equally positive buzz ahead of its release, as the trailer's pull-quotes illustrate. Without getting into spoilers, it appears most critics (so far) agree the movie has something important to say about racial stereotypes and the dangers of tokenism, among other timely issues.
While Onah's Cloverfield Paradox failed to impress most critics, Luce is already off to a promising start and should continue to generate buzz ahead of its release on Friday, August 2. The film is scheduled to open against Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw in theaters, so it may yet enjoy success as lower-budgeted and more character driven counter programming to Dwayne Johnson's Fast & Furious spinoff that weekend. August is also, traditionally, a month when the general movie-scape begins to gradually transition into fall drama season and 2019 will be no exception, with films like The Kitchen and Where'd You Go, Bernadette arriving later in the frame. That means Luce will have a head-start on its direct competition, which should only help it to avoid being buried at the box office.