Rustin review: Colman Domingo shines in this dull historical drama

Rustin details the contributions of Bayard Rustin to making the 1963 March on Washington possible. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.


In 1954, the US Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional. However, not much has changed. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s associates express their desire to stage a protest at the Democratic National Convention.

They are threatened that the newspapers will expose Dr. King’s affair with his trusted advisor, Bayard Rustin, which is a lie. Bayard Rustin is let go, and this scars him.

Rustin doesn’t stop there. In 1963, he comes up with a plan to hold the largest peaceful protest in the history of the nation. However, he realizes that he can pull off this protest without the NAACP, but not without Dr. King.


At first, Colman Domingo and Chris Rock’s performances feel rather cartoonish. It takes time to get comfortable with their behavior. Once one accepts the personality that Rustin has, they start accepting Domingo’s dedication to living up to that too.

Domingo manages to stand out as the powerful lead throughout the film’s run. He elaborately channels all the emotions that Rustin feels, from wanting to inspire people to remembering past trauma.


The narrative around Rustin’s journey is indeed touching and inspiring. He is a gay Black man thriving to make a statement while many are trying to pull him down.

Watching Rustin face the limits the authorities are pushing him to, cry at the end when his friends support him, and finally get accepted as an important part of the struggle is certainly heartwarming.

The final moments of the film come with some strong dialogue that establishes Rustin as a hero in everyone’s eyes.


The dialogue work present during the final moments of Rustin is absent for the rest of the film. It is rather confusing. The film talks about events, numbers, and names. The viewers can only enjoy the film if they have done some research.

The film should have stuck to its characters or detailed the events mentioned to help the audience get some insight. This way, they would have been able to connect with Rustin better.

While complete attention is needed to understand the events, the narrative is not engaging either. It’s slow and scattered, too. The film also fails to present some important moments in the most inspiring manner and will sometimes leave viewers lost.


Colman Domingo gives his heart to the film as Bayard Rustin. The emotional journey of Rustin can be felt, but the events surrounding him hardly get a viewer hooked on the film.

Rustin review: Colman Domingo shines in this dull historical drama 1

Director: George C. Wolfe

Date Created: 2023-11-17 13:30

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: Rustin summary and ending explained

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