Winnie Mandela, the movie, was bad. Monumentally so. A number of reviews will concur and it didn’t help that most of South Africa was unimpressed by it, including the protagonist herself.
Featuring Jennifer Hudson as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela tells the story of umam’ Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life from her birth right until the Truth Reconciliation Commission sessions. Her story is a complex one of strength and sacrifice.
Here’s a few pockets of excellence from Winnie Mandela, the movie:
Winnie fought the notion that adventure, bravery and academia was for boys alone. Wayeqwaqwaza nama khwekwe, much to her grandma’s delight and to her father’s demise. Stubborn as ever! A bright learner, she recited cryptic poems from a tender age. She was a firebrand.
The Chemistry between Winnie and Nelson was incredible from the start. Young woman moves to Johannesburg, gets schooled at the convent, declines scholarship to the US to dedicate her life to the struggle in South Africa – meets, dates and marries Madiba. She understood his role, and created her own. That was part of their chemistry. Regardless of how badly her story is told in this movie, the romantic notions of hero and heroine do not tire.
The score and soundtrack of the movie has moments of greatness. In many parts, the score really carries the screenplay, lends certain scenes the emotion they command. In other parts however, where the scenes are far from dramatic, the score gets lost and there is a palpable disconnect. There are no South African artists at all in the soundtrack, even Alan Silinga’s Lakutshon’ilanga is a cover version done by The Manhattans. And Jennifer Hudson gets to belt a tune, ‘Bleed for love,’ as the closing credits roll out. How convenient.
Her resolve was unbreakable. However badly the story is told, her resolve in continuing the fight for freedom in Madiba’s absence was unshakeable. Even after the banning, solitary confinement that almost drove her to insanity, being away from her husband for so long, her own kids being raised by other people while she was either detained or fighting – her resolve was unbreakable.
Her story is so intertwined with Tata’s so much that it’s hard to talk about her without him being dominantly present in the narrative. And yet her merits stand on their own and deserve singular credit because she fought. Hard and tirelessly.
Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard really tried to carry those roles though. But depicting two giant personalities like that is no easy feat, imagine the depths they had to reach into? They definitely get brownie points for effort.