Review: MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 10 January 2014

Review: MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (2013)

Review: MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (2013)
Idris Elba delivers his finest performance to date in this typical but well-meaning biopic.


Over the course of nearly three decades, a total of four actors has played the late South African revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela (who passed away at the age of 95 from a prolonged respiratory infection). There were Danny Glover in 1987's made-for-TV movie MANDELA, which earned him an Emmy nomination; Dennis Haysbert in 2007's GOODBYE BAFANA; Morgan Freeman in 2009's INVICTUS; and Terrence Howard in 2013's WINNIE MANDELA. Now added to the list is Idris Elba in Justin Chadwick's biopic, MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM.
  
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

The biopic charts from Nelson Mandela's beginnings in a rural village to his early career as a dedicated young lawyer in Johannesburg. He later joins the ANC (African National Congress), at which he quickly rises through the ranks and becomes an inspirational figure among fellow African peoples to fight for their freedom and equality. His action against the government ultimately caused him 27 years of imprisonment until the crucial days where he is released and subsequently elected as the President of South Africa in 1994 at the age of 75.

THE GOOD STUFF
 
While the depiction of this biopic is pretty straightforward, Justin Chadwick's direction is thoughtful and effective enough. This is especially evident during the key moments of Mandela's life.

Idris Elba gives a tour de force performance as Nelson Mandela -- easily his best role ever tackled since he is first known in the US in HBO's The Wire. While he may not possess the facial resemblance of the South African revolutionary leader, but he does share Mandela's (6'0") imposing frame (even though Elba is taller by 3") and also successfully mimicked his vocal and speech patterns with convincing South African accent. But best of all is the way Elba captures the charm, dignity, honour and pride of Mandela with such graceful manner. As for the supporting roles, Naomie Harris deserves a special mention here for her solid performance as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Her onscreen chemistry with Elba is simply genuine and heartfelt.

On the plus side, the movie's end-credit soundtrack titled Ordinary Love by U2, is particularly inspirational.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
All the scenes involving Mandela delivers his powerful speeches to his fellow African peoples.
  
THE BAD STUFF
  
It's quite a pity that Chadwick and screenwriter William Nicholson doesn't really dig deeper into the humanising aspect of Nelson Mandela. Then there's Chadwick's unfortunate sense of restraint when comes to the harsh realities of apartheid.

FINAL WORDS


Despite the flaws, MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM remains a must-see movie for those who are interested to know what makes Nelson Mandela one of the most respectable political leaders ever lived in the 20th century.

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