Watch Betty & Coretta
- 1 hr 28 min
Betty & Coretta is a made-for-television movie from 2013 that tells the story of two women who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances as the wives of world-changing leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. The film stars Angela Bassett as Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., and Mary J. Blige as Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X. The movie follows the two women as they meet, bond through their shared experiences, and continue to fight for justice and equality for their families and communities.
The film opens with the assassination of Malcolm X and the immediate aftermath, in which Betty Shabazz is left to care for her four young daughters alone. Coretta Scott King reaches out to Betty and offers her support, and the rest of the movie traces the friendship that develops between the two women as they navigate the tricky terrain of being the wives of famous and influential leaders.
One of the strengths of Betty & Coretta is the way it humanizes these two iconic figures. We see them chatting and laughing and sharing everyday moments with their families. We see Betty struggling to balance her desires for her own career with her duties as a wife and mother. We see Coretta wrestling with her husband's infidelity and the strain that puts on their marriage. The movie is perhaps most successful in its portrayal of these women as complex human beings with strengths, weaknesses, and flaws, instead of just as symbols of the Civil Rights Movement.
The film does not shy away from the difficulties faced by these women. We see Betty and her children face discrimination and hostility in the aftermath of Malcolm X's assassination, and we see Coretta and her family targeted by the FBI's surveillance and harassment. The movie is clear about the ways in which these women were often treated as extensions of their husbands, rather than as individuals in their own right. But the film also celebrates their resilience, their persistence, and their commitment to the cause of justice.
Bassett and Blige both give strong performances as Coretta and Betty, respectively. Bassett brings a quiet grace and dignity to Coretta, portraying her as a woman who always seeks to do what is right, even when it is difficult. Blige is more fiery and passionate as Betty, but also imbues her character with a deep vulnerability and warmth. The chemistry between the two women is palpable, and it is easy to believe that they formed a deep and lasting friendship.
The supporting cast is also strong, with Tyler Hynes giving a sympathetic portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. and Lindsay Owen Pierre bringing a quiet intensity to the role of Malcolm X. Gloria Reuben is also excellent as the King family friend and advisor, and there are several moving scenes between her and Bassett as they grapple with Martin's infidelity.
The film is not perfect, however. The pacing feels a bit uneven at times, and the movie sometimes seems to jump from one historical event to the next without fully exploring the emotional impact on the characters. Some of the dialogue can also be a bit heavy-handed, with characters frequently making speeches about the importance of the Civil Rights Movement.
Overall, however, Betty & Coretta is a moving and powerful tribute to two women who played critical roles in the fight for justice and equality in America. The film succeeds in humanizing these icons, and in showing the toll that this work took on their families and their personal lives. At its heart, though, the movie is a celebration of friendship, and the bond between Coretta and Betty is one of the film's greatest strengths.
Betty & Coretta is a 2013 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 28 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.3.