Given the fact that it debuted on PBS “Masterpiece Contemporary” on Sunday October 25th, I’m surprised that it’s being released into theaters at all. It played Sundance in January to good reviews but was never given a wide release anywhere. But, another blogger’s assessment that it couldn’t be very good could not be further from the truth.
The cast is wonderful, particularly Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mark Strong as the suavely sinister Dr. Nial Barnard. It’s by no means a happy little film but it’s definitely one worth watching. I, for one, had no prior knowledge of the “secret” talks taking place behind the scenes in order to bring an end to apartheid and ensure a peaceful transfer of power. (Although it makes sense that it would happen this way.) Director Pete Travis, of whom I’ve been a fan since “The Jury”, deftly manages to create tension from mere dialogue surrounding events of which we already know the outcome.
I can understand the limited commercial appeal of a film like this, unfortunate as it may be. Luckily we have cable outlets like IFC and The Sundance Channel, as well as PBS. And of course, there’s always DVD. But don’t let the lack of domestic release deter you.