How can one film cover the life of Nelson Mandela? A prisoner, a statesman, a hero over a period of 80 years; Madiba’s story does not fit a three-act structure.
Elba handles the challenge exceedingly well carrying an elegant dignity throughout, even if he is nullified by his aging makeup. Harris performs superbly too with real fire and bite adding an insightful take on Winnie Mandela.
The greatest flaw is the over-reverent treatment of Mandela. Chadwick succeeds in presenting the legend rather than the man himself leaving the more urgent and personal first third to greatly outshine its final destination.
TL;DR: An honourable and occasionally moving biopic of the late Mandela with strong performances by Elba and Harris. However, it will be a few years yet until we see the full potential of this story and truly go deeper into the man, his legend and his achievements.
CAST: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto and Fana Mokoena
DIRECTOR: Justin Chadwick
WRITER: William Nicholson
SYNOPSIS: The amazing story of Nelson Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.