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Winnie Mandela sounds camptastic!

Poor Jennifer Hudson. I love this review.

Winnie Mandela, starring Jennifer Hudson as the wife of Nelson Mandela, could’ve been a new camp classic if the material weren’t quite so relentlessly noble. Director Darrell Roodt (Sarafina!) and screenwriter Andre Pieterse take their cues less from middlebrow Oscar fare like Gandhi and Invictus and more from glossy “a star is born” vehicles like Mahogany and Evita. Throughout, the events of Winnie’s life are just pretext for Hudson’s next big costume change, and the shifts in sartorial style are the closest the movie comes to character development. Early on, to signal that Winnie is still young and naïve, Hudson wears trim Coco Chanel—style knee-length dresses and modest cloche hats; once radicalized, she sports flamboyant kaftans and vibrantly colored dashikis; and by the Black Power ’70s, she’s got a huge afro and an array of subtly flattering camo fatigues. Poor Hudson tries to live up to both the character and the clothes, but she isn’t anywhere near assertive enough a screen presence; whenever she’s supposed to be rallying a crowd or shouting down her oppressors she looks painfully aware of her own inadequacy.

Not that Hudson has any real opportunity to give a performance, what with Roodt and Pieterse trying to cram in all of Winnie’s significant life events. They begin in a small South African village with her awesome birth, which is depicted as just slightly less awesome than the birth of the Lion King. Then, with African choir exulting, Roodt jumps ahead a few years to find Winnie beating the boys at a traditional combat game involving swords made of sticks. It’s at this point that Pieterse’s amazingly terrible dialogue begins to assert itself:

Father: “Our tradition forbids girls to use the sticks!”

Little Winnie: “Some traditions are not fair! Please, allow me to fight!”

Father: “No, you’re a girl! We must respect our traditions!”

The dialogue doesn’t improve any once the adult performers (who include Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela) take over, and Roodt never stops rushing to the next vignette. Throughout, the average scene length is about 30 seconds; it’s as if the filmmakers feared actually having to dramatize events and settled for simply indicating them. Winnie Mandela is maybe the closest a movie has come to a series of commemorative plates.

If nothing else, the speed of events allows for some memorably hilarious moments, like the series of scenes in which Winnie is incarcerated for refusing to condemn her husband. By her seventh month in prison, she’s half mad, reciting Shakespeare sonnets—her favorite: “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?”—and making friends with the ants in her cell. After a while, the prison matron bursts in, screams, “Stop singing!” and crushes all the ants with her boot. Much later, after Winnie has become a power-mad liability to the anti-apartheid cause, Hudson does her best drunk-and-alone-in-a-hotel-room scene, but she has to do it in a fat suit that makes her look like one of the Klumps. It all ends with Winnie confessing her sins at a Truth And Reconciliation Commission hearing, but instead of saying anything, she simply turns around in her chair and stares at the camera with her huge, dark sunglasses. Roodt fades to black, then lets the credits roll over Hudson singing a new Diane Warren tune, “Would You Bleed For Love?” It’s enough to make Evita look classy.

by Anonymousreply 1409/11/2013

Does she wear a burning tire? Oh, right, bitch had others killed with "necklaces"...

Pity she and Idi didn't make a luv connection.

by Anonymousreply 109/07/2013

Movie sounds terrible.

As does Winnie.

by Anonymousreply 209/07/2013

Like Winnie, the movie sounds tedious. Why are we lionizing this reprobate? And with a vocalist?

by Anonymousreply 309/07/2013

Biography movies are DEAD.

by Anonymousreply 409/07/2013

Honestly, a movie about Winnie Mandela starring Jennifer Hudson wearing Chanel. Sure, OP, it's such a tasteless idea that there's potential camp value here.

But only if Hudson wears Dior while she lights the burning tire necklaces on fire.

by Anonymousreply 509/07/2013

This movie was produced by Pastor TJ Jakes (if I recall the name correctly), the same one who produced Sparkle last year with Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks.

by Anonymousreply 609/07/2013

The film is a couple of years old and got generally bad reviews at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. Plus Hudson is not a good actress by any means.

I think the only reason this finally came out is due to the upcoming Mandela film with Iris Elba that the Weinsteins are releasing later this fall. And THAT film looks like a standard-issue inspritational biopic based on the coming attractions. Elba deserves better though you can't blame him for snatching the opportunity to do the movie.

by Anonymousreply 709/07/2013

Correction: Idris Elba

by Anonymousreply 809/07/2013

Craptastic is more like it!

by Anonymousreply 909/07/2013

[all posts by racist shit-stain #11 removed]

by Anonymousreply 1009/09/2013

Yes, she's a real scream.

by Anonymousreply 1109/10/2013

Hudson gives one of the most laughable and ludicrous mouth-breathing performances as Winnie Mandela in the history of film. The Academy never had such a case of buyer's remorse as when they woke up the morning after the Oscars and realized they had given a precious one to a piece of wood non-actress who screeched a classic song that was assembled in a million edits in Dreamgirls. Sorry, it's true.

by Anonymousreply 1209/10/2013

And it sat around for two years, unreleased? It must really be a steaming pile...

by Anonymousreply 1309/11/2013

That would should be locked up.

by Anonymousreply 1409/11/2013
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