Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Trailer: UP Original Movie 'My Other Mother' (Lynn Whitfield, Essence Atkins, Jasmine Guy) Debuts 9/21 Trailer: UP Original Movie 'My Other Mother' (Lynn Whitfield, Essence Atkins, Jasmine Guy) Debuts 9/21 Wendy Williams is Crushing the Competition in the Ratings, as Queen Latifah's Show Struggles In Last Place Wendy Williams is Crushing the Competition in the Ratings, as Queen Latifah's Show Struggles In Last Place The Cast of 'A Different World' 20 Years Later - 'Oprah: Where Are They Now?' The Cast of 'A Different World' 20 Years Later - 'Oprah: Where Are They Now?' Sundance Institute Selects 10 Writers for Inaugural Episodic Story Lab Sundance Institute Selects 10 Writers for Inaugural Episodic Story Lab Lamman Rucker, DB Woodside, Billy Dee Williams, Christian Keyes Lead 'Man in 3B' (Based on Carl Weber Bestseller) Lamman Rucker, DB Woodside, Billy Dee Williams, Christian Keyes Lead 'Man in 3B' (Based on Carl Weber Bestseller) Exclusive: Zoë Kravitz, Keith Stanfield, Kimberly Elise, A$AP Rocky Board Rick Famuyiwa's 'Dope' Exclusive: Zoë Kravitz, Keith Stanfield, Kimberly Elise, A$AP Rocky Board Rick Famuyiwa's 'Dope' Tribeca Film Announces 'Nas: Time is Illmatic' One Night Only October 2 National Screenings Tribeca Film Announces 'Nas: Time is Illmatic' One Night Only October 2 National Screenings The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut Eyeing Leads In Revenge Thriller 'The Perfect Guy' Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut Eyeing Leads In Revenge Thriller 'The Perfect Guy' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

TIFF Roundup 9/19 - Reviews Of Jennifer Hudson's Winnie Mandela Biopic Are In

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act September 19, 2011 at 2:27AM

Your Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) daily for September 19th... although the festival screened its last film last night. Another TIFF wrapped up!
6

Your Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) daily for September 19th... although the festival screened its last film last night. Another TIFF wrapped up!

On Friday night, Jennifer Hudson's long-awaited Winnie Mandela biopic, Winnie, premiered at TIFF; it also screened a second time on Saturday. Reactions? As suspected, given the trailer we all saw, not very good, unfortunately.

First, from The Hollywood Reporter:

Solid performances are undercut by lack of storytelling integrity in this plodding biopic.There are rich dramatic possibilities in the conflicted choices here, but in striving to inflate the tragic love story, Roodt’s film whitewashes too many moral issues, sacrificing nuance and complexity. Hudson, in particular, deserves better. Her one-on-one scenes with Howard have pathos, but as Winnie’s actions grow more questionable, the film can’t decide whether she’s a martyr or a pariah, and the performance doesn’t answer that question. Without insightful dialogue, Hudson’s expressions of uncompromising defiance, wounded dignity or booze-soaked bitterness veer into cliché. And both Hudson and Howard are done no favors by ropey latex work as their characters age. Some imposing locations aside, the most distinguishing visual aspect is the excessive period detail in Pierre Vienings’ costumes; the 1950s and ‘60s scenes, in particular, are awash in fussy design statements, with more hats than a Philip Treacy showroom. Even later on, it’s hard to feel much as Winnie steps through the charred rubble of her burnt-out house when you’re busy taking in the shimmering aquamarine caftan she’s somehow rescued. The Toronto premiere carried a disclaimer indicating that sound and image quality are not final, and end credits were not yet in place. (A turgid Diane Warren power ballad sung by Hudson played over a black screen.) But technical finessing is not going to change much for a film far too antiquated in its approach to epic storytelling, which makes it less likely to work on big screens than as a prestige women’s television event.

From Variety:

With a title that boasts a level of intimacy this biopic simply doesn't possess, "Winnie" tells the story of Nelson Mandela's wife and co-crusader in broad, black-and-white terms, drawing public criticism from its outspoken subject. Premiering in rough form at the Toronto Film Festival, "Cry the Beloved Country" director Darren James Roodt's TV-style treatment reduces South Africa's struggle to the status of an impediment in the blooming romance between life-imprisoned Mandela (Terrence Howard) and his strong-willed partner (Jennifer Hudson), who kept step, only backwards and in heels. Decently acted despite screenplay shortcomings, pic is best suited for femme-friendly cable. The film acknowledges but doesn't quite know how to handle Winnie's disgrace, with Hudson's turn taking a sinister edge as she becomes godmother to a gang of soccer thugs. These later scenes are compromised by stunningly awful makeup effects that lend Howard and Hudson a distracting rubbery look. Otherwise, the production values are reasonably good, judging by the low-resolution print screened in Toronto.

There was one nod, from Elle Canada:

Howard is magnetic on screen as the former South African President silencing and moving the audience with speeches taken directly from history. Playing opposite him in the film’s title role is Jennifer Hudson, as his wife Winne Mandela. Together, the two capture a monumental period in world history, dramatizing events with care and precision, creating a heartfelt picture of Nelson and Winnie Mandela never seen before. Most Sentimental Moment of the Evening: The closing song of Winnie performed by Jennifer Hudson heard through the sound of sniffles in an otherwise silent theatre.

There might be others like that; but judging from the film's Facebook page, which has seemingly taken to posting only the positive write-ups of the film since its Toronto premiere, there probably aren't many; or likely not enough to match the number of negatives, and I've read a few of those.

All that said, I still want to see it for myself, and hopefully I'll get my chance to do so.

If any of our readers were present for either of the TIFF screenings, do chime in.

This article is related to: Film Festival


Shadow & ActNewsletter