Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1989. Davros Films, Star Partners II Ltd., Sundance Productions. Screenplay by Colin Welland, Euzhan Palcy, based on the novel by Andre P. Brink. Cinematography by Pierre-William Glenn, Kelvin Pike. Produced by Paula Weinstein. Music by Dave Grusin. Production Design by John Fenner. Costume Design by Charles Knode. Film Editing by Glenn Cunningham, Sam O’Steen. Academy Awards 1989. Golden Globe Awards 1989. Toronto International Film Festival 1989.
Donald Sutherland plays a schoolteacher in South Africa who is completely oblivious to the turbulence in his own country until it is pushed into his face: his gardener’s son gets viciously attacked by police during a demonstration by a group of black schoolchildren. Sutherland soon grows to realize the legal injustices that the government takes part in, mostly in the form of an evil police commissioner (Jürgen Prochnow) whose eventual outcome is so conventionally Hollywood that it robs the film’s potential of being more powerful. Sort of a male version of The Official Story and a less challenging version of A World Apart, it also features a marvelous supporting performance by Marlon Brando as a world-weary lawyer; his scenes are the most energetic part of the film.
The Criterion Collection: #953