Half of a Yellow Sun

"Good"

Half of a Yellow Sun Review


By trying to include an entire acclaimed novel on-screen, first-time filmmaker Biyi Bandele waters down momentous real-life events. The film is fascinating enough to hold our attention as it traces the first decade of Nigeria's independence, but the human drama at the centre never feels like much more than a soap opera.

The story starts in 1960 Lagos, as Nigeria proudly declares independence and looks to a bright future as Africa's largest, most prosperous nation. At the centre are twin sisters educated in America and Britain: Olanna (Thandie Newton) decides against working in the government, travelling north to teach at university; Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) moves east to manage their father's business. But it's their love lives that define them. Olanna falls for colleague Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), whose Mama (Onyeka Onwenu) treats her as if she's a witch. Meanwhile, Kainene has a passionate affair with married Englishman Richard (Joseph Mawle). And both of their relationship struggles are echoed in Nigeria's violent birth pangs.

The film is punctuated with newsreel footage from the period, which adds to the authentic production design. The 1960s are recreated on-screen with an attention to detail from the bustling village streets to the stylish Mad Men-like sophistication of upper-class sitting rooms. Indeed, the focus is on the contrast between locals caught in ethnic and religious traditions and the foreign-educated progressive thinkers. So it's no wonder that the country experiences a series of violent coups, ethnic cleansing and a hideous civil war.

The cast is excellent. Both Newton and Rose create lively, vivid women we can identify with, while Ejiofor and Mawle find striking depth in their less-defined roles. Perhaps the most engaging character is John Boyega's perceptive house-boy, through whose eyes we see most of the action. But since writer-director Bandele has tried to include so many details from Chimanda Ngozi Adichie's acclaimed novel, the film never quite grabs hold. It feels scattered, diluted and melodramatically overwrought. It's still an interesting account of Nigeria's troubled history, although a more focussed approach would have also made it moving.



Half of a Yellow Sun

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th May 2014

Box Office USA: $53.6k

Distributed by: Monterey Media

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 5.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Biyi Bandele

Starring: as Olanna, as Kainene, as Ugwu, as Odenigbo, as Richard, Genevieve Nnaji as Ms Adebayo

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

Advertisement
England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.