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Justin Chadwick, 2013

Pathé

“An incredible true story that inspired the world.” There’s no arguing with a tagline like that – not when it’s about Nelson Mandela. The problem is doing justice to his life in a film.

While set pieces (speeches, mainly) are hyped up with a sweeping Hollywood score and catchy African tunes, the film necessarily has to fast-forward through boycotts, reform and most of Mandela’s incarceration on Robben Island. Impressive as Idris Elba and Naomie Harris are, the limits of the biopic genre are plain to see: Nelson and Winnie’s soft-focus courtship jars with an all-too sketchy account of the horrors of apartheid.

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