Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie) is a single mother who is well known within her community for winning Miss Juneteeth when she was a teenager. Turquoise has her own daughter named Kai (Alexis Chikaeze) who is now old enough to enter the Miss Juneteenth beauty pageant like Turquoise once did. If Kai wins, she will receive a scholarship allowing her to more than likely be successful career-wise in the future. For Turquoise, her future and career has not worked out the way she hoped. We are not told why at the beginning of the film. But one thing is certain- Turquoise is determined to do whatever it takes and whatever it costs to make sure Kai is prepared and ready to win just like she once did.
As the film begins, it is quite evident that whatever happened to Turquoise within her past still haunts her. Turquoise spends her time working hard in a local bar, and she does well when it comes to earning extra tips on the side. All the money she makes goes towards her daughter applying for Miss Juneteenth. She is willing to put her daughter first above anything, including her outstanding electricity bill. Her current husband also decides to make an appearance, promising to be more helpful and supportive towards both Turquoise and Kai.
If you are not aware, Miss Juneteeth is a drama film. Performances here are undoubtedly significant, and the mother-daughter relationship on-screen is believable and convincing. I also enjoyed the element of mystery when it comes to Turquoise and her past. We understand she was once Miss Juneteeth, but I continued to wonder what happened to her afterwards in life. And why is Turquoise so driven and passionate for her daughter to win like her? These questions and mysteries are a nice touch and kept me invested in the film’s story, and the journey to two leading ladies share.
The film tells its story at a slow pace, which I felt mainly at the start of this film. The beginning takes way too long to introduce its characters and to get the plot in motion. The film’s pacing is improved in the second and third act. Unfortunately, there are moments I did also find predictable, such as character choices and the film’s final moments. This experience might not be the same for everyone, but I could not help feeling saddened that specific outcomes were known in my mind before they were revealed on screen.
Overall, this is a touching drama film. It is filled with fantastic and pleasing performances from both Nicole Beharie and Alexis Chikaeze. The plot is also satisfying as we witness a mother only wanting the best for her child and the struggles of her trying to do so. The pacing for the most part is pleasing, but the film certainly feels quite slow to begin with. Thankfully, it picks up at a nice pace for the second and third act. Some key moments were also predictable for me, which could differ to others.
Miss Juneteenth (2019) is Now Available on Digitial from January!