By Jack Rico
The “1-4-0”: With shades of 1982’s Gandhi, #Mandela is a solid biopic with very few flaws and powered by a strong performance from Idris Elba. Oscar buzz is awaiting.
The Gist: A chronicle of Nelson Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
The Highlights: Idris Elba and the direction from English helmer Justin Chadwick. Biopics are hard to pull off and few fare well, just ask Clint Eastwood and his J.Edgar. Chadwick creates a reverential film about one of the most admired and popular politicians and activists of our time in Mandela, and thanks to a great cast selection and muscular performances from Elba, and Naomie Harris (Skyfall), the almost three hour duration is easily endured. One thing you can look forward to once you leave the theater is the wealth of knowledge you’ll possess about the charismatic African figure.
The Lowlights: We can argue about this for years to come, but as good as Idris Elba performance was, it is hard for me to believe that Mandela was that tall, muscular and built as a youth, including in his elder state. Also Elba’s accent kept on sounding like a bad Al Pacino/Scarface impersonation. I managed to ignore it, but not forget it. Also noticeable were the dramatic shortcomings of the film. It doesn’t break you emotionally the way say Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi does and probably that falls on Chadwick’s hands more than the script itself. I should’ve been an uplifted mess by the time I got home.
Pay or Nay?: Pay for it. What stands out tremendously is the acting of the ensemble and the cinematography. It feels like you stepped into a time machine and traveled back to the South Africa of the 60’s. Seeing a reenactment of what made Mandela special is a memorable experience.
Rated: PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and disturbing images, sexual content and brief strong language
Release Date: Nov 29, 2013
Screenplay: William Nicholson
Director(s): Justin Chadwick
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Terry Pheto, Deon Lotz, Mark Elderkin, Michelle Scott
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Film Genre: Biopic, Drama