Direction: Justin Chadwick
Actors: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris
A film tribute to the iconic anti-apartheid crusader was more than essential.
Commencing with his childhood, taking in his coming of age, the evolution of a radical freedom movement and 27 years of incarceration, the biopic ends with Nelson Mandela’s election as South Africa’s first black president.
Much too compressed, the adaptation of the statesman’s 1994 autobiography leaves you somewhat dissatisfied.
Instead of inviting us close to understand the great leader, the endeavour is a solemn history lesson. Mandela deserved better. On the positive side, the film is informative and intermittently inspirational, particularly for the replay of some of Mandela’s powerful speeches.
The project is served admirably by its lead actor, Idris Elba. Despite the script which keeps leaping from one era and its events to another, the actor remains consistent, delivering a career-defining performance.
Mandela’s grey areas, like his roving eye and his failed first marriage are touched upon only briefly. As Winnie Mandela, Naomie Harris registers a strong screen presence. Released a few weeks after Mandela’s death, the film does have an immediacy, a rousing music score and technical finesse.
With all its deficiencies, it is still worth a watch.
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