When we first meet Kevin Costner’s character, Elliott, in Black and White, he’s alone at the hospital after a car accident has killed his wife (Jennifer Ehle). Shattered, he finally says, “I feel so sh-tty,” before going home and crawling inside a bottle of booze. The themes of loss and alcohol will evoke memories of the last time Costner worked with writer/director Mike Binder, 2005’s The Upside of Anger. In that film, Costner got to play a lighter soul, with Joan Allen’s abandoned wife shouldering the darker demons. In Black and White, however, Costner is put through the emotional wringer, and the ambitious film adds a much more complicated issue: race.
Elliott’s life has already been marked by tragedy. His teenage daughter died during childbirth, and Elliott and his wife have raised their mixed-race grandchild (Jillian Estell) in their white-collar neighborhood. But when he’s left alone to raise her—while juggling his L.A. legal practice and a mushrooming drinking problem—her paternal grandmother, Rowena (Octavia Spencer), decides the child would be better off with her family in Compton. She takes Elliott to court, cleaning up her ne’er-do-well son, Reggie (Andre Holland), in order to win custody.
In an exclusive scene from the film, which debuts Sept. 6 at the Toronto Film Festival, Elliott and Rowena passive-aggressively make nice at the funeral and plot the course for the conflict that follows. Costner, who financed the film himself, talked to EW about working with Binder, the delicate issue of race in film, and his affinity for a good speech. READ FULL STORY