Idris Elba does a reputable job of portraying Nelson Mandela in this OK biopic that has some impressive performances, but feels a bit paint-by-numbers at times. The film follows Mandela from his lawyer days, through his long jail stay and eventual release into the political arena of South Africa. While Elba doesn’t necessarily look the part, he does a good job with the voice. He cuts a powerful presence in the film. Naomie Harris isn’t nearly as successful and feels a tad miscast as wife Winnie. Her work lacks nuance, and fails to grasp the dynamics of Winnie’s personality and struggle. I remember a TV movie that came out nearly 20 years ago that starred Alfre Woodard as Winnie, and she rocked (Elba, however, is a slightly better Nelson than Danny Glover). Justin Chadwick directs the film competently, but it’s less impactful than it should be. For a story so amazing, I was expecting something a little more profound.
Director: Justin Chadwick
Producer: Anant Singh, David Thompson, Cameron McCracken, François Ivernel, Geoffrey Qhena, Basil Ford, Sudhir Pragjee, Sanjeev Singh, Philisiwe Mthethwa and Hlengiwe Makhathini
Cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riadd Moosa, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwi Matshikiza, Deon Lotz and Terry Pheto
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom