One of the big question marks of the awards season is Justin Chadwick’s “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” in which the very underrated Idris Elba portrays South African former President, Nelson Mandela. Listed on every pundits “in contention” lists for the year, no one really knew how good or bad the film could be. Being distributed by The Weinstein Company and revealing a surprising action-packed trailer, we were definitely in for something very different from Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus.”
Debuting moments after Matthew McConaughey solidified himself as a Best Actor contender for “Dallas Buyers Club” – the word seems to be very favorable for the talented Elba. Though, many are already throwing out the notion, a miss is inevitable with the competition this year. As for the film itself, and the word on co-star Naomie Harris, there seems to be less enthuiasm for the two to make any big splash during the season.
In terms of awards prospects, in my humble opinion, I never really saw the appeal of the film reaching a vast audience of AMPAS members. With films like “Fruitvale Station,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” and “12 Years a Slave,” the Academy will have plenty to choose from in order to try to fill their minority quota for the season. Sad truth.
Check out some of the excerpts:
Henry Barnes of The Guardian is impressed with Elba but less with the film:
Idris Elba delivers a respectful take on the South African icon in Justin Chadwick’s authorised biopic, but the film itself sags beneath the weight of responsibility
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter praises Elba:
While Elba’s gifts have been tapped in his television work on The Wire and Luther, few if any films have showcased the British actor’s range quite so expansively as Mandela. From an early scene with him in training as an amateur boxer he shows a rangy physicality, an absolute ease in his body that enhances his magnetism. That dynamic presence feeds the warmth as well as the authority and dignity of the man. He’s also uncannily like the real Mandela in his voice and accent work.
Tim Grierson of Screen Daily points out the flaws:
An unquestionably earnest and massive undertaking,Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom aspires to do nothing less than be the definitive overview of South African leader Nelson Mandela’s life, one of the most colourful and momentous of the 20th century. But the ambition of the film’s scope isn’t matched by the artistry of its vision: This nearly two-and-a-half-hour biopic is largely too tasteful and conventional to offer much insight into the remarkable man it wishes to celebrate.
— Wilson Morales (@blackfilm) September 8, 2013
— Gillian Rightford (@grightford) September 8, 2013