Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom

Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom
Starring:
Idris Elba and Naomie Harris


Rated: PG-13 

for some intense sequences of violence and disturbing images, sexual content and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: November 29, 2013 Released by: The Weinstein Company

Another cinematic portrait of Nelson Mandela that is adapted from the iconic South African leader's autobiography is respectful of its compromising, complicated subject from childhood rather than going for a limited more gritty approach.

Idris Elba (Pacific Rim Thor: The Dark World) stars in the sweeping historical drama Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom) and limns a pretty charismatic figure as political and personal changes altered thoughts which would change the way of a country dealing with the atrocities against an ethnic majority.

The commanding native British actor who also has had success as a rapper, disc-jockey and producer does well as the Johannesburg lawyer, activist, husband and father, as well as a big shaker-and-mover in the African National Congress. Even the make-up work helps to a degree in an eerie approximation of a man who would serve 27 years in prison for not remaining silent and ultimately becoming his country's first freely elected president and restore its once segregated society. One whose solution to a tricky, combustible political situation was unusually positive.

During his professional rise in the 1940s Mandela would start a family with wife Evelyn Mase (Terry Pheto) before his need for reform would lead to marital disintegration and a second marriage to social counselor Winnie Madikizela (Naomie Harris, the new Miss Moneypenny in last year's well-received 007 entry,
Skyfall)before the life-changing islandic incarceration. Even if Winnie isn't strongly rendered from the page, Harris endows her with power through the radicalization evident in combat fatigues.

Though scenarist William Nicholson (Gladiator) is relegated to sticking to the key points and events of a harried, yet determined antiapartheid proponent, it still isn't as underwhelming as it may have been. Because, in part, of the authentic feel to the production (sans the use of current Johannesburg for the earlier Mandela) and enough of a focus on character and relationships. While not always lionizing its indefatigable populist crusader.

Yes, this Mandela is long as evident by its title but explicable to its significance in place and time. It may come across with an overly ambitious, arrogant air about it, but has clarity around a vital image maker and those who supported him including a colleague effectively done by Tony Kgoroge. Director
Justin Chadwick who has experience with Elba knows how to hone emotion without manipulating the sentiment and letting more soap-opera theatrics development as in a well-accoutered The Other Boleyn Girl. With the impassioned resolve that his lead brings to the role abetted by crucial interplay with Harris an often illuminating, surging tale triumphs.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom        B-                     B- 

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