Mickey Hardaway Is a Gripping and Devastating Emotional Challenge

Mickey Hardaway still of Mickey (Rashad Hunter) sitting across from his therapist, Dr. Cameron Harden (Stephen Cofield Jr.).

Mickey Hardaway’s rawness creates viewer discomfort while emphasizing how mental health deteriorates over time.


Mickey Hardaway is a challenging yet realistic exploration of a Black man unraveling after years of trauma. Most scenes avoid explicit violence, letting cutaways and silence speak volumes to the audience. However, the gut-wrenching impact remains because of how genuine each scene feels. Most of the conversations feel possible, not dramatized for viewers. While not perfect, those imperfections build alongside promising performances as a tragedy in Mickey Hardaway, decades in the making, brews to the surface.

Written and directed by Marcellus Cox, the film stars Rashad Hunter as the titular character, Mickey Hardaway. Told mainly in the “how we got here” cinema order, the movie begins near the end. While a couple, Dr. Cameron Harden (Stephen Cofield Jr.) and his wife, Joann Harden (Alana Aspen), snuggle and discuss cooking skills and sports tickets, a knock comes at the door. Assuming it’s a delivery order, Cameron answers it. Alas, the next thing audiences and Joann realize is that her husband is on the floor, dead. Mickey killed him, and then the story travels back. 

Mickey Hardaway Feels Too Real

Given the subject matter, Mickey Hardaway is difficult to view. But it speaks to the Black trauma, mirroring many experiences of either home abuse, workplace exploitation, or both. Even without physical abuse, many parents douse their children with emotional abuse by crushing their aspirations. Oftentimes, it stems from their bitterness about their dashed dreams, as seen with Mickey’s father. The film captures how abuse can conceal itself in “well-meaning.”  

Just looking at social media, creatives often call out businesses for stealing their work. So, herein, there’s that familiarity and more as it focuses on the specifics of a white man stealing a Black man’s art. In a business sense, the amount of times bosses—white bosses and men, in particular, take credit for someone else’s work is incalculable. Usually, there is no recourse because court requires time and money, something a white boss and business has while the rest of us struggle to survive. 

Trigger Warning for Various Abuse and Violence

Mickey Hardaway still of Mickey (Rashad Hunter).
Mickey Hardaway still. Courtesy of Marcellus Cox.

From a child to a young adult, Mickey suffers abuse from his father. That, combined with the scenes with police, requires viewers to exercise caution because they are traumatic to watchMickey Hardaway’s rawness creates viewer discomfort while emphasizing how mental health deteriorates over time. However, audiences must prepare themselves for how emotionally painful the film is. 

Performances Work But Dialogue Sometimes Harms It

The acting is decent. Rashad Hunter does admirable work, but his performance sometimes feels shut down. While it could be because of the story, his emotions sometimes feel hollow. However, the dialogue in some parts also hinders the cast’s performances. Rather than exuding a natural conversation, it feels like dialogue written for someone to say. However, making audiences emotionally invested regardless of the missteps speaks to the power of the movie as a whole.

The rest of the cast standouts include Stephen Cofield Jr. as the therapist and Ashley Parchment as Mickey’s girlfriend, Grace. David Chattam, as Mickey’s father, Randall, quickly makes viewers livid as his resentment for his life leads him to abuse his son. The black-and-white style adds roughness to the film and works to heighten the plot.  

Mickey Hardaway focuses on the pain of one Black man to speak to larger issues of abuse. While confusion can arise regarding its take on therapy, the movie highlights how childhood trauma whittles away mental health. Still, therapy is vital for those struggling to unpack hurt, but here, it tragically winds up the final straw. Mickey Hardaway has flaws but remains a powerful picture that looks at the macrocosm of trauma through one Black man’s experience and how generational trauma breeds cyclical violence. 

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