Written by Andre Pieterse and Darrell Roodt
Directed by Darrell J. Roodt
Starring Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard and Elias Koteas
Winnie Mandela is a controversial political figure, to say the least. In her native Africa, she was once known as the “Mother of the Nation”. While her husband, Nelson, spent 27 years in prison, she was left to fight his non-violent fight for a free Africa in his stead. Their peaceful approach was met with nothing but violence from the ruling African government and it became eventually impossible for Winnie to pacify the masses of angry Africans that were looking to her for guidance. She started to make choices that violated human rights, which got her into trouble with the law and naturally took her out of favour with her people. Hers is a complicated journey that deserves to be told and explored in detail. With WINNIE, a film by Darrell J. Roodt, her story is told, but the details needed to comprehend it fully have been sorely foregone in favour of underdeveloped melodrama.
WINNIE has two saving graces, and they are lead actors, Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard, as Mr. and Mrs. Mandela. They make the most out of the material they are given, bringing full bodied character to the famous figures they are tasked with portraying. It is what they are surrounded by that makes all their efforts nearly for not. The South African struggle against the atrocities of the Apartheid is one of the most horrifying the world has ever known but Roodt’s interpretation of the events is so oversimplified that it is often hard to take seriously. Hudson and Howard are compelling enough to pass the time, but the Mandela’s definitely deserved a better director to tell their rich history.