What are the critics saying about the political biopic?
Idris Elba – one of the more exciting actors of his generation – portraying Nelson Mandela – one of the most important men for many generations – sounded like a sure-fire hit. The early reviews would suggest those musings were a touch premature as Long Walk to Freedom slips down the betting odds list for Best Picture.
Idris Elba [L] as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris [R] as Winnie Mandela
“The film overcompensates. It bellows at you. Tells you apartheid was bad by placing champagne-sipping whites on a balcony and black people down on the streets below. It pumps in the period detail, drops in chunks of news footage to back up its importance,” say The Guardian.
And while they admit it “steadily” improves, The Hollywood Reporter also offered up a lukewarm surmise of Justin Chadwick’s epic. “The opening is uneven, reaching bluntly for instant inspirational notes and then larding the early scenes with a busy selection of music choices in an effortful bid to escape the constraints of the didactic biopic,” goes their review.
For The Independent, who, like The Guardian, awarded the film five-stars, Mandela’s incredible story was too much to fit in a feature film. “Condensing Nelson Mandela’s story – from growing up in a small village in South Africa to becoming the country’s president – into 152 minutes sounds an impossible task, and so it proves,” they say.
The film doesn’t simply portray Mandela’s positive influence, but delves into the intricacies of his darker self, too. "It was important we had both sides, the good and the bad," said Idris Elba. "I didn't want to deface Mr Mandela in any way," the Luther actor continued. "But I didn't want to portray him in a way that wasn't honest."
Despite his best work, though, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has lost the Oscars talk that brought it some considerable buzz. 12 Years A Slave has now become 6/4 favorite to pick up the Best Picture gong, with The Monuments Men slipping down to 15/2.