Flawed Biopic of a Great Artist
- Nina review by PV
I am a fan of Nina Simone and loved the recent documentary about her - that was better than this and includes maybe the most interesting part of her lifestory, namely when she went to live in Africa in the early 70s with romantic ideas of 'going home', then returned to Europe in rags, living in a bedsit, before 2 white guy managers rescued her, make her take medication, booked her gigs etc. Not a young black man at all. That seems pure fantasy invented to create an all black major role cast. Shame. Racist even. As indeed Nina was in the early 70s, singing 'Kill White Peopl' in one concert.
This movie focuses weigh to much on race and civil rights, as that is the obsession of our age. A better biopic would have shown her early life more. NO mention here she was born Eunice Waymon, for example. No mention that she wrote hardly any of her songs - as one can see if one watches till the end of the end credits. Ironically, white men wrote most of her famous tunes, just like a young white Jewish boy wrote Strange Fruit.
My advice: watch the superior documentary before this. It's called WHAT HAPPENED MISS SIMONE? (2015). Better still, watch some of her concert clips on an online video platform.
But it's not TOO bad. A shame they left out the incident in France a couple of years before her death when she started shooting at kids who were stealing apples from the garden with her revolver. Yes, she was like that. Not much mention of her daughter either or husband (a black cop). If they'd included some mention of her 1980s gigs at Ronnie Scott's in London, that would have been great too.
This is maybe half true and the rest total fiction BUT it hangs together OK, and the music is great. The main actress looks too young and fair-skinned though. Nina is meant to be in her mid 60s in the 1990s when this movie is mostly set (she was born 1933 died 2003).
It's all obsessively focused on racial politics (which our age demands) when it actually should have been focused on Nin's music and life first and foremost.
3 stars. Just.
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