Kieran Corrigan

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In My Country Review


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South Africa's 1995 Truth and Reconciliation Hearings - which sought to resolve the animosity between blacks and white Afrikaners after the fall of apartheid by having victimized blacks confront their white tormentors, who in turn would be granted amnesty by publicly admitting to, apologizing for, and proving that they were ordered to carry out, their hateful actions - may one day spawn a great movie. In My Country, John Boorman's lazy and ludicrous film about the Hearings, isn't it. A prime example of why it's dangerous to concoct fictional narratives in order to tell historically important stories, Boorman's latest is awkward and ungainly, a dramatically forced and stilted tale of interracial reconciliation bereft of any rhythm and even less subtlety. With the wildly inconsistent director working more in the vein of his legendary disaster Exorcist II: The Heretic than his neo-noir masterpiece Point Blank, it's the kind of well-intentioned, but wholly unsuccessful, misfire that makes one desperately pine for a thorough documentary on its real-life subject.

Inauspiciously beginning with a clunky montage of sun-dappled vistas and police brutality newsreel footage set to rousing (but still slightly heartbreaking) African singing, In My Country focuses on Anna Malan (Juliette Binoche), an Afrikaner journalist and poet whose white father and brother disapprove of her interest in the Hearings ("Remember where you're from, Anna," racist Dad ominously warns). While covering the event, she meets Langston Whitfield (Samuel L. Jackson), a Washington Post reporter opposed to the Hearings' disinterest in persecuting the country's heinous, government-sponsored white criminals. The two quarrel over the effectiveness and justness of the Hearings' guiding principle of "Ubuntu" (an African belief in forgiveness over punishment), but their horror and sadness over the proceedings' testimonials - many of which have been recreated, word-for-gut-wrenching word, by the filmmakers - helps them eventually bridge their initial ideological differences and, in the case of Anna, learn to reconcile herself to her family's own nasty role in apartheid. After some boneheaded flirting, the two attempt to heal the country's racial divisions themselves through lovemaking, all while Anna's cheery African-American sidekick Dumi (Menzi Ngubane) gleefully confirms the hoariest of stereotypes by breaking into jubilant song and dance at every available turn (including in court).

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In My Country Movie Review

In My Country Movie Review

South Africa's 1995 Truth and Reconciliation Hearings - which sought to resolve the animosity between...

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