The immediate problem with this film is that you walk away not knowing that much more about the Mother of the Nation than when you walked in.
The film claims that it reveals her “remarkable journey amidst the turbulent decades of her husband Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment.”
That is achieved on the surface. We see that she is a tomboy who played stick fighting as a child in the then Transkei, that it was her beauty that initially attracted Mandela, that it was her strength that helped him in the beginning of his political struggle.
The film states that it was the harsh political situation and her militancy after her lengthy solitary confinement and brutal treatment by the State that led to their subsequent divorce.
Problem is, this is all common knowledge.
And, of course, Hudson (pictured) and Howard’s dialogue is jarringly delivered with a Nigerian and a not-South African accent.
The film does not go much deeper than that. While Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has distanced herself from the unauthorised biography, many other films in this genre have used artistic imagination to at least provide a credible and entertaining feature.
This film, unfortunately, has safely stuck to merely credibility, with the result that it’s rather boring and, sadly, uninspiring.
For the first 50 minutes the film snail-paces along to its inevitable climax, which is the couple’s incarceration.
Roodt is known for his great cinematography and this only comes to light when Hudson is in solitary confinement and has only an ant to speak to.
He captures her unspeakable loneliness with that unique Roodt skill which has made him such a great filmmaker. (It was at that stage that I wondered whether there were too many cooks spoiling the broth in this production.)
The pace picks up with the introduction of the Mandela Football Club and the dawning of the ’90s.
Perhaps the writers could have chosen to focus on a more personal aspect of Madikizela-Mandela’s life which, in turn, would have revealed a deeper understanding of her as a woman and a human being.
Perhaps they could have focused on her relationship with her two daughters, for example.
Instead, we leave the film as we came in – with only imagining and speculating just how absolutely horrific Winnie Madikizela Mandela’s life was during those oppressive and evil years.
If you like The NO.1 Ladies’ Dectective Agency then you will like this movie.