Sunday, November 30, 2008

The White Lioness: Grade B

The White Lioness (1996)
Rolf Lassgard, Basil Appollis, Dipuo Huma. Director Per Berglund. (Swedish; mostly English, with subtitled Swedish, Norwegian and Afrikaans).

I picked this one from the stacks because I remembered having read the book years ago. I didn’t even know it was ever made into a movie, but the book was terrific. This movie is pretty good too; I give it only a B because I was disappointed by the movie’s extreme compression of the book’s rich and complex characters, but I guess that’s how movies are made.

The movie is set at the time when Mandela and De Klerk shared a Nobel peace prize for bringing an end to apartheid. A group of reactionary white Afrikaners are afraid of the coming cultural and governmental change and plot a high level assassination. They hire a young black killer to do the job. The assassin and his keeper train in a small town in Sweden, where they incidentally kill a snoopy woman. The small town police detective finds the body but is perplexed. Very slowly, tiny clues begin to emerge and he eventually follows the trail to Cape Town. The scenery is beautiful and it makes me realize how seldom we see South Africa in movies. Without giving too much away, the plot is thwarted in the nick of time. The story is so compressed that it is difficult to follow, but logically tight if you pay attention. Acting is superb and so is the directing. Locations are wonderful to see. Very worthwhile.

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