WINNIE (D Films, 2011) D: Darrell Roodt w/ Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard. Rating: NN; Blu-ray package: none Rating: NN
Winnie, a sometimes bland biopic about South African freedom fighter Winnie Mandela, Nelson's first wife, rockets through everything up to his life sentence for treason in its first 40 minutes. This headline treatment portrays her as a smart, sober-minded young woman with a social conscience.
Things get more interesting when she gets busted and tossed into solitary. Here, Jennifer Hudson struts her acting chops as a woman in abject misery who may be desperately attempting to retain her sanity or may be waging psychological warfare on her captors. Or maybe both.
Either way, this is Hudson's and the movie's finest sequence, though she later does a good job of showing her character's increasing inner hardness.
Terrence Howard's Nelson is a smart, energetic guy with an iron core, and clearly in love with Winnie. Elias Koteas, on hand throughout as the face of police oppression, ably embodies the personally and politically committed racism of apartheid.
The tail end of the closing credits acknowledges that some fiction has been mixed in with the facts, but lacking an explanatory doc, we're left to guess what that is.
EXTRAS English, French audio. No subtitles.