The Harder They Fall, written and directed by Jeymes Samuel has a star-studded cast and breathtaking plot.
Starring Hollywood heavy-hitters, Idris Elba, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, among others is based on the 19th century American West. The film opens with a younger Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) eating at the dinner table with his parents. An unidentified gentleman, later identified as Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), enters the home and murders Nat’s mother and father, while scarring Nat’s face. The film then proceeds to the present-day 19th century. Rufus Buck is incarcerated and rumors swirl that he will be shortly released. Nat Love has become somewhat of an avenger of outlaws; he and his gang typically rob them or those that rob banks. During a robbery, his gang is alerted that the loot they obtained is property of the notorious and intimidating Rufus Buck gang.
The film then surrounds Rufus Buck and his gang. The gang is attempting to buy back the city of Redwood. Rufus Buck’s gang has a reputation of terrorizing and intimidating others. Their attempts to obtain the money come back as unsuccessful as the general public is not pleased with them nor their behavior. Nat Love and his gang are on a quest to defeat Rufus Buck as revenge for his attack on Nat as a child. They ambush the city of Redwood and some members of his gang are held captive by Rufus’ gang. During the final scenes of the movie a fight ensues between Rufus Buck and Nat Love’s gang. This action-filled movie will have you clenching your teeth as the plot unfolds. A plot-twist at the end helps to explain the opening scene and makes the ending that much sweeter!
The Harder They Fall is definitely action-packed and exciting. This movie is sure to keep you intrigued as the plot begins to unravel. Jeymes Samuel did an excellent job at building suspense, and creating a jaw-dropping, exciting plot twist at the end. The music, the costumes, the scenery all created a great viewing experience that will keep you on your toes!
Spike Lee moderated a talk with writer/director Jeymes Samuel, star Zazie Beetz and costume designer Antoinette Messam.
Check out some highlights from the talk below:
Spike Lee: Did you learn how to ride a horse?
Zazie Beetz: I actually could ride a horse before. But I definitely got better on this film. As you can see, Jeymes is intoxicatingly positive and interesting and a creative person. And I remember after reading the script feeling so just moved by the idea of making a black western and turning this genre around. But then also, particularly after we facetimed, I felt like there was this instant connection. And I remember there was a thought I had about Mary, and I was nervous about telling you because I was like, You know, I didn’t want you to feel like I was nitpicking or anything. But then I remember I shared it with you and you were like, That’s right, like, that’s the idea. And that’s like, I don’t know — I felt like we both knew that we were going to make the same character. And when we started shooting, you know, it was all in the midst of COVID and, you know, it was tough for people. I think a lot of people felt kind of isolated. You were away from your family for so long … but I felt like you were sort of this beacon of light that just kept us all moving and going, constantly playing music in between takes, dancing in between takes and just constantly. I don’t know the source of energy.
Jeymes Samuel: Like we’re in the middle of a worldwide virus. It’s like John Carpenter’s The Thing, right? Like anyone could have it. We had to build up a trust with each other. And you’re speaking to someone that you could walk away and catch this thing. You know, so I’m just thinking under those environments, I believe like the film we make is for the public, but the making of the film is for us. So I would have had my sound guy, Anthony Ortiz, put up a big sound system speaker on my video village, and I would just blast music between takes. And also, it’s all black people we’re all in in costume. And so we were all jamming constantly.
Spike Lee: Miss Antoinette – you killed it with the costumes. Can you tell us about the research you do to put what we saw on screen, sister?
Antoinette Messam: Well, luckily for me, when I met Jeymes, he already had a lot of research, so it was just to expand on it. And also what we started to discover was so exhilarating, so exciting. I mean, I’m Jamaican Canadian, and we barely learn anything about who we as a community were in Canada, much less in the U.S. So to do this deep dive and discover people that looked like me who dressed as I dressed my characters, that I wasn’t replacing faces or doing illustrations and revising that there was no make believe they existed was probably one of the most important things that I took from this film. I learned so much and the archival images that I now have to show. I now show these to students to show them that we owned towns. I discovered towns that I didn’t even know existed, that had people who own their own banks. And, you know, so it was wonderful … And then the Cowboys. Let’s talk about the Cowboys. Oh my god, how fly were the Cowboys. I mean, you think they look fly in my movie? You should see some of the references I have from Victorian times that these guys in the willies, and their fly hats-
Zazie Beetz: Nat Love in particular-
Antoinette Messam: The real Nat Love? That would have been too much for the movie. Ok, so that was probably the most fun I had. I’d be texting him at all hours of the night- My God, look at this picture. Look at this person. I look at this and then one of them was a relative. You know, it was fantastic.
Spike Lee: A red velvet jacket – where’d that come from?
Antoinette Messam: And when I was doing my research, I came across a collection that was contemporary and it was Ozwald Boateng’s collection … I showed it to Jeymes, and he said that that’s my brother. Let’s connect you.
Jeymes Samuel: Yeah Ozwald [has] known me since I was 12, right? Because he came up with my big brother who is a musician and they came up-
Spike Lee: And what’s his name?
Jeymes Samuel: Seal.
Spike Lee: Was there a point where you were going to quit? Ever.
Jeymes Samuel: There was never a point. Even when the day before the initial start of principal photography, the day before- the coronavirus came and shut us down. And at that point there was no one. Remember when Idris Elba caught COVID? That was on my set … Idris just bought me a guitar. And at that point, we thought, you can catch COVID from just touching something. I did not play a note on that guitar. Well, I think I picked it up like two weeks ago. I was like, OK, OK, so- so but at no point was I going to not make The Harder They Fall, even if I had to shoot it on iPhones. I was making my movie. Nothing was going to stop me. I grew up, I came up on She’s Got to Have It … We get ish done.
The Harder They Fall is now playing.