Half of A Yellow Sun (2013)

An interesting film about two sisters whose lives change in 1960s Nigeria at the time of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor.

I was going to drop this film into the bottomless pit of despair that is my ‘Top 10 Worst Films’ list. However, as the film progressed I decided not to let it sink to such calamity.

To begin with, the pacing and narrative structure is atrocious. It got very tedious and was quickly looking to be a film about who slept with who. However, as the film progressed and showed the true brutality of the conflict it got interesting. However, most of all I really disliked Thandie Newton’s acting. She veered between two expressions and her acting itself veered on the melodramatic. Thus, scenes seemed slightly disjointed at times and characters flitted in and out with little purpose.

Joseph Mawle was interesting in his role as the English writer who falls in love with Kainene, one of the sisters. He has always been a varying actor and it was interesting to see him here. While Ejiofor did not have the same clout here as in films such as 12 Years a Slave, he still portrayed the role of the ‘revoloutionary lover’ of Kainene’s sister Olanna quite well.

The gender representation was interesting here. The men are portrayed as using women for their own ends – whether it is the girls’ father wanting to use them as sexual pawns to get him the governmental job he wants or the men in their lives weakly justifying their infidelities.

So, while I did watch to the end I wasn’t blown away by it, sadly. The end titles made it seem as if it was based on a true story and yet the tension between romantic cloying plots and the desire to portray a true brutality was too overwrought at times. If you like slow burning dramas then watch this film by all means. If not, then give it a miss.

MY RATING: **.5 / *****

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