IN MY COUNTRY (John Boorman). 104 minutes. Opens Friday (April 8). For venues and times, see Movies, page 103. Rating: N Rating: N
During the two years of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, government killers and torturers were brought face-to-face with their victims. They told their stories, and, at least for official purposes, all was forgiven. It was a staggering exercise in forgiveness, staggering unless you believe, as old Jacques Derrida once said, that "there is no limit to forgiveness, no measure, no moderation, no 'to what point?'" You either forgive or you don't.
I can soon forget John Boorman 's appalling attempt to make drama of the Truth and Reconciliation years, but I can't forgive it. Working from Antjie Krog 's novel Country Of My Skull , Boorman turns the brutal, tragic stories of survivors and perpetrators into soap opera.
Samuel L. Jackson plays an American reporter who lands in Cape Town bristling with rage against apartheid. He meets a progressive Afrikaans radio reporter, played by Juliette Binoche for reasons known only to the film's financiers.
They follow the commission as it travels through South Africa. When they get stuck in a small town overnight, they tumble into bed. It says a lot about In My Country that the love scenes between Jackson and Binoche are the most disturbing thing in the movie. Like Boorman's handling of an entire nation's pain, the scenes are awkward, pointless and trite.