Freeview film of the day: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Idris Elba stands tall in this handsome drama about the South African icon

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom ★★★ 
9.30-11.50pm BBC2 Premiere

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As Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom – the true tale of the Bechuanaland chief whose interracial marriage threatened the postwar credibility of apartheid in neighbouring South Africa – is due in cinemas on 25 November, here’s the linear biopic of a rather more famous African agitator for independence. Essentially The Nelson Mandela Story, the film was snubbed at awards season, save for U2’s Oscar-nominated song. It does tilt handsomely at the grandeur of Gandhi or Lawrence of Arabia, but is too reliant on newsreel. Fortunately, the film pivots on a performance of controlled grace from the statuesque Idris Elba. Prosaically adapted from the great man’s memoir and with capably marshalled crowd scenes, even at two hours plus, its 50-year span feels episodic. Naomie Harris delivers a nuanced Winnie, but it lacks any deeper understanding of Mandela the fallible man.


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