In My Country movie review, John Boorman, Samuel L. Jackson, Juliette Binoche, Brendan Gleeson. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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A scene from 'In My Country'
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"In My Country"
**1/2 stars
104 minutes | Rated: R
LIMITED: Friday, March 11, 2005
Directed by John Boorman

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Juliette Binoche, Brendan Gleeson, Menzi Ngubane, Lionel Newton, Connie Chiume, Owen Sejake, Langley Kirkwood, Yolanda Methvin, Sam Ngakane, Aletta Bezuidenhout, Louis Van Niekerk, Grant Swanby

Juliette Binoche (1996)


Plays well on the small screen, but you want letterbox to really take in the beautiful South African imagery.

  • John Boorman
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Juliette Binoche
  • Brendan Gleeson

  •  LINKS for this film
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    In 'My Country,' fine actors play fictional reporters who are little more than conduits for tales of apartheid atrocity

    By Rob Blackwelder

    A fictional narrative created to encompass several stories that personify the nation-altering emotional crux of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation hearings, "In My Country" accomplishes its goal -- but does so largely through obvious plot devices.

    Juliette Binoche and Samuel L. Jackson give strong, moving performances as two journalists -- one Afrikaner, one African-American -- covering the gut-wrenching testimony as the oppressed came face-to-face with their oppressors during these historical early-1990s committees, held all over the upended nation as it transitioned from apartheid to democracy. But it's too obvious that their characters are designed to represent (or at least be acquainted with) particular points of view that must come to a symbolic accord for the country's race issues to be resolved.

    She comes from an enlightened perspective about equality, but her rich, white family is nervous about living in the new South Africa -- and of course they have skeletons in their closets that soon come to light. He has a huge chip on his shoulder about race relations, having grown up seeing America's Civil Rights movement pave the way for more equality before the country developed a collective sense of denial about the lingering discrimination still ingrained in its culture.

    Whenever an opportunity is contrived to give them idle time together (a flat tire strands them in a remote area, they get drunk after a tough day listening to shocking accounts of atrocities), the pair debates the issues of justice and hope that "In My Country" is designed to address. And because this is a movie, they soon fall into a metaphorical romance.

    Director John Boorman ("The Tailor of Panama," "The General") has his heart in the right place, but these moments, and many others, ring loudly of machination. At times Jackson's character seems to exist specifically as a conduit, asking simplistic questions that allow locals to express larger truths and pronounce the film's central themes. This becomes even more apparent in scenes dispersed throughout the film of Jackson interviewing a particularly heinous racist (Brendan Gleeson) who is scheduled to arrogantly defend his actions in the movie's finale.

    "In My Country" does cut to the bone with its depictions of some terrible events described in the hearings that are central to the plot, and Boorman's storytelling is effective, from Binoche's pained narration to the beautiful photography that seems to always be capturing symbolic sunsets and sunrises over breathtaking vistas. But while the film succeeds in its emotional veracity, there is an underlying oversimplification betraying the fact that the truth and reconciliation of South Africa's past is not something easily summed up in 104 minutes.

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