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Saturday, April 17, 2021

White Stripes music does not equal a political movie. But ‘The White Shoes’ is lyrical and acted with style and intelligence.

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Irish punk band the White Stripes gained their name from an experience while touring in the U.S. in early 1998: when a protest broke out against racism outside a New York venue, the group left their concert early to join the anti-racist demonstrators. When the event was eventually controlled by riot cops, guitarist Jack White told the Sunday Independent newspaper that he had “never felt so proud and proud to be Irish.” Since then, the band has used its music to speak out against racism and other social ills.

This oncoming noir pic from director Jamie Meltzer depicts the White Stripes’ story through The White Shoes, a band from Newcastle, England whose members are white and ethnic Irish. When they fall out with the Stripes, they form their own band. When they get into trouble — especially a particularly racist incident — they brandish the white shoes.

And that leads to larger truths — including about race. The film’s title refers to the shoe boot mob scene in New York’s Central Park, but there’s also a thread of introspection about the white anger that has led to a 21st-century version of the race riots of the United States’ 20th century.

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