If this film is to be described in a few words it would be, “Meryl Streep does Colonialism”. If I was to describe this in more words it would be, “despite Meryl Streep and Robert Redford doing exemplary jobs this film could probably have been 45 minutes shorter.”
Saying that Streep puts in a brilliant performance is, to be honest, like saying penguins eat fish. It’s a given. However, there is only so much she could do with her Danish accent and acting skills. Similarly, there is only so long you can look at beautiful cinematography of Africa. The glacial pacing of the story depicting a Danish aristocrat moving to Africa with all her worldly possessions, catch an STD, suffer loss and lose everything by the end removes from some of the impact.
You feel for this woman so deeply at times. It gets a little hard watching her being fate’s plaything. Getting something good in her life only to have it cruelly taken from her, and yet they removed a lot of the crap she had to deal with in order to make this film. She’s an incredibly admirable woman. More so because she tried, in her early 20th century way, to help out the people whose lands were taken away by the British.
That leads me to the final thing I am going to address about this film (as enough has been said about the hair-washing scene with Streep and Redford). Here we are thirty years after Out of Africa was made and it is painful to watch just how silent the non-White members of the cast are. Only one, a tribal chief, says anything about the situation and he is pretty much dismissed. On the positive side, there is only one racial epithet from the white side… and that’s the only positive I can think of in that department.
With 14 films to go I know that I haven’t got one left that has a lower rating on Rotten Tomatoes. So, I guess, the only way is up.