As Bayard Rustin, Colman Domingo is the heart and soul of the film. He gives Rustin a powerful sense of dignity, even when he’s portraying some of his less flattering qualities. Rustin is incredibly intelligent and passionate, but he’s also grandiose, self-important, and has a wandering eye that isn’t necessarily sensitive to the feelings of those in his inner circle. But his flaws make him human, and all of these traits make it all the more poignant when he chooses humility rather than fame through his involvement in the march. Domingo doesn’t put a foot wrong throughout the film, and his performance is a large part of what works about “Rustin.”
Although it has a fairly nuts-and-bolts directorial style, its matter-of-fact nature helps to capture a sense of the massive logistical feats involved in organizing the march. Featuring warring factions within the movement and Rustin’s endlessly determined attention to detail, the film shows what it took to get so many different people with different perspectives onto the same path of liberation together. To get a million people all on board with something, endless compromises need to be made, and that is what the film is so adept at showing — that the successful execution of this event was more important than any one person or their specific beliefs.