CIFF Review: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Kill Your Darlings

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

mandela_posterRush was a serviceable car racing movie, but it was a rather boring biopic, because Rush split the difference between two Formula 1 drivers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. It would have worked a lot better if it had been either a movie about Hunt, or a movie about Lauda, but making it about both ended up short-changing everyone and character-wise it felt, well, rushed. You didn’t really come to care about either character because, due to time constraints, neither really existed as an independent person. They were just a mish-mash of clichés that hung off of each other. Then there was The Butler, which was also serviceable but ultimately flat because it attempted to cover entirely too much time. If Lee Daniels wanted to tell the story of White House butler Cecil Gaines’ fascinating forty year career, he would have been better off doing so in a ten-part HBO miniseries. If he just wanted to tell us about Cecil Gaines, then he needed to ground the story in one place and time and not bother showing us a bushel of presidents. It was too much for two hours.

I bring these two movies up because Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom combines the best (worst?) of both of those problems. Directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) and starring Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomi Harris (Skyfall) as Winnie Mandela, Mandela has too much going on to do justice to either of its subjects. Continue reading “CIFF Review: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Kill Your Darlings”