In My Country Reviews
May 25, 2012
This movie moved at a snails pace. Its a serious and sad subject, but the way it was presented made it seem secondary to the budding, uninteresting romance.
April 3, 2012
Jackson and Binoche put it on the line in John Boorman's In My Country. Boorman tries to invoke tears but isn't able to connect with the audience as much as the plot could have allowed. Dealing with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa In My Country has moments of brilliance but is never very strong in any faucet.
January 15, 2011
The film itself? Juliette Binoche's South African accent? Eh. The story and the recent history of South Africa? very interesting.
April 15, 2007
an importamt film, especially in these times,. discussion of nations and the impact of segregation and further, aparteid torture has on the individual and the world. if you wonder how to show compassion to those who have caused harm, without more violence, this is a must see.
July 6, 2013
Again I must in this case ardently disagree with this site and the critics--this one of the best films I have ever seen because it deals with a subject that is seldom treated by the movies and one that is so necessary for the very survival of our world--forgiveness. Not only does In My Country treat the subject of forgiveness, perhaps the hardest thing for humans to do, but it treats this subject very well, in some of the most unforgettable scenes I have watched. A truly moving, beautiful film with superb performances by Samuel L Jackson, Juliette Binoche, and most of all Brendan Gleeson, whose role here is like nothing I have ever seen play before. How critics could call this movie melodramatic, I simply don't understand. Melodrama is something like Gone With the Wind, a soap opera, but this film is real drama, because it tells of things that actually happened and dealt with it in a way that emphasized the necessity for forgiveness instead of vengeance, something so rare, we must reassure every instance of it.
June 15, 2012
In My Country is a film about post-Apartheid South Africa. In 1995 Nelson Mandela established the Truth & Reconciliation Commission which allowed victims to testify to share their stories and perpetrators were allowed to confess their crimes in exchange for amnesty, on the condition that their accounts were truthful and proved to be politically motivated. In My Country was directed by John Boorman and stars Samuel L Jackson and Juliette Binoche and it recounts just some of the thousands of testimonies given during the commision. Unfotrunately the story gets bogged down with a few unessessary subplots such as a relationship between the two leads and an interview between Jackson's character and a ruthless white supremisict played well be Brendan Gleeson. This portion of the film is broken up and presented in scattered moments throughout the movie. I also felt that the wrong actors had been cast. Binoche seems to have been chosen for her ability to cry on que but her performance is unconvincing. Jackson is also two dimentional playing an American reporter and his performances teeters on kitchy. In My Country is a well intended film, telling important stories... but it fails in it's delivery.
September 27, 2005
For those of us who were only recently reading newspapers when the apartheid ended in South Africa, the name Nelson Mandela may be only familiar from the references that Oprah so frequently makes to him. Some of us had the good fortune to have elementary school and middle school teachers who sat us down and explained why freeing Mandela was important to all of us.
The lesser known story, though, is the story of forgiveness that took place following the collapse of apartheid. I recently learned more of this at a leadership conference from a minister that has one of the largest growing churches in South Africa today. This movie highlights the unfolding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission through the eyes of two reporters- one white South African (Juliette Binoche- love her), and an African American (Samuel L. Jackson- usually himself a "royale with cheese", but he carries this role well). There is a romantic subplot that would seem to steal from some of the more genuine components of the plot, but its resolution fits in thematically with the rest of the movie. It was an interesting story, but I think the book may be better ("Country of my Skull" the originial title).
The most powerful moments are the scenes taken right out of hearing transcripts where victims confront their oppressors with the emotional recounts of the violence committed against them and their families. The oppressors must sit there and hear the accusations and ask forgiveness of those they abused. It is still amazing to me that an entire country could make forgiveness and reconciliation (and truth telling, even) a matter of public policy. The heroes in this film are those victims who forgive their assailants, showing the reporters and the audience that there is strength, dignity, and power in turning the other cheek.
July 11, 2005
I'm on the fence with this one. On one hand, I've read the OVERWHELMINGLY bad reviews, and feel swayed to also pan it. However, since I saw the film having read none of the criticisms, and knowing only that it won "Best Picture" at the West African film festival earlier this year, I'm thinking that maybe I should try to evaluate the movie sans influence.
A little background on me: I spent 2003-2004 living in Germany in the small city of Konstanz on the shores of the Bodensee. It's basically a resort town with a lot of history involving Church matters and several international wars. It's also home to one of the newer and more liberal universities in Germany. While I was studying there (more or less hehe), I met dozens of otehr exchange students from all over the world, as one is wont to do - from European Erasmus students to tons of Chinese engineers and several from Africa. Three in particular from Suoth Africa gave me an interesting perspective on race relations there and the image that SA has of itself. Obviously the perspective [i]I[/i] have is biased, and anything I learned from anyone else is tempered by [i]their own[/i] prejudices/experiences/etc. But hey, welcome to the world, eh? The three people I met were from three completely different parts of the country and three different backgrounds: one white English and from Jo-burg, one Indian from Durban, and one coloured from Cape Town - they each loved their country for very different reasons, and also defended and spoke openly about the history. The Englishman was from a well-off family, and spoke angrily about the devolution of order SA had undergone since the end of Apartheid, although he was glad that the government policy had been dismantled. He was angered by what he thought was discriminatory and chaotic rule by the ANC, and was, to my American ears, pretty racist (and a nice liberal guy besides, surprisingly - different from American rednecks, I'll tell you that!) Another was an Indian girl from Durban, who made it clear that institutional racism still exists under a black majority government, but mostly against those of Indian descent. Because they aren't one of the "disenfranchised" minorities that were targeted by Apartheid, they're practically ignored or treated as outsiders, passed over for government grants and affirmative action. The last of the three told me he was "coloured", i.e. not black but a mixture of a bunch of ethnicities, and grew up speaking Afrikaans in a primarily Dutch area. From what he told me, the white Dutch Afrikaaners were the real "white trash", with roaming gangs of skinheads and drag racers. Surprisingly, he also had nothing nice to say about the blacks in his country ("Don't fall asleep on the train, they'll steal your shoes!"), but, like the other two, were glad that Apartheid had been abolished. Their conversations with me about their country revealed a wealth of opinions, some of them were what I would think to be racist but all over the map in terms of who was the real victim. Here we were, ten years after the end of Apartheid and the beginnings of "reconciliation", and it seems the only thing that they were universally in agreement on was that "Apartheid was a bad thing."
This brings me to the film. The most-repeated message is that "everyone" thought that Apartheid was "a bad thing." And yet, through the Reconciliation Hearings that are the backdrop to the movie, it seems that quite a few government officials, police officers, etc, went along with it - whether they were just "following orders" or whether they maliciously took pleasure in the torture and violence against blacks. What we, as Americans watching this film, may have a problem with is the fact that Truth & Reconciliation Commission hearings are even being held in the name of forgiveness and, well, reconciliation. It's almost unfathomable how the black who were now in power would be so forgiving to those who months before had institutionalized their oppression. I could see Americans watching this being extremely frustrated with the historical aspect, and then passing that along to the other narrative of the black American reporter's relationship with the white Afrikaaner poet. This is essentially the heart of the film, although much of the character development is overshadowed by some of the (melo)drama of the T&RC hearings. And this is where it becomes a problem - the viewer is unsure which story is to take prominence: the hearings, or the growing closeness between the lead characters?
I could say that Boorman has a racial stake in the white English South Africans, since he's English himself (although from the UK...interesting post-colonial, post-imperialist angle, I'm sure), but I think is approaches the subject of the hearings well, incorporating real human drama without sensationalizing it too much...although he does toe that line. It's unfortunate he doesn't pay as much consistant attention to character development, although it does work at times. Through the small dramas that the characters themselves enact, it becomes clear that race is treated locally - an Afrikaans woman wants to turn away Binoche because her two travelling companions are black, yet happily changes her mind when Binoche lies that they are both Americans (well, half-true there), almost as if to say it is nationality that determines race and not skin colour in SA. Boorman at least tries to show the many different faces of the country, and the different races/classes in their own localities, yet the viewer almost can't help but feel indifferent to the tragedies the white farmers suffered due to terrorists/rebels. (I didn't react as Binoche's character did, having a giggling fit and then breaking down, thankfully. I would have gotten some stares from the old woman two rows over, the only other person there, and old lady stares are the worst.)
I think one interesting tidbit related to the film is found on the Sony Classics homepage for the movie. It's a small blurb from Nelson Mandela praising "Country of My Skull". Hmmm...did he see a different movie than the one most people saw? Or maybe...and this is just years of po-mo/po-co criticism coming out...non-African viewers are unable to appreciate the film the same way since our experience and expectations are so vastly different, and American viewers especially on the issue of race because it's one of the most important aspects of our daily and historical experience. We may wish to superimpose our own expectations, issues, prejudices, etc. onto this film to try to make it something it's not, and when it doesn't fit our presumptive mould, it loses everything that made it one of the most widely-praised films in Africa of the past few years. Or maybe it's just a terrible movie, and I'm being too lenient on the people responsible for making it. *sigh* I'll just sit on the fence then, and hedge my bets.
July 10, 2005
The movie just plain doesn't work. It has no mystery, suspense, or soul. It is just plain dull.
July 7, 2005
i saw [i]in my country[/i] a while ago, but thought i should put a quick word in because it came out on dvd this week.
the current rating on rotten tomatoes is way too low for this movie and there were only four user reviews before i made this one.
if you're at all interested in the apartheid or the truth and reconciliation hearings, this film is a must-see.
July 5, 2005
[b]DVD[/b] First Viewing, 3 Boorman films seen
I ignored the negative reviews I read for [i]In My Country[/i] because I thought it would be a poignant drama on the color line that divides the world. I thought it was more entertaining than it should have been, and while I really liked the "twist" at the end, I thought it made it more of a thriller than an act of intellectual filmmaking. But I guess that's what we're supposed to expect from the director of [i]The Tailor of Panama[/i] and [i]Exorcist 2[/i].
I like Sammy Jackson just fine, but there were times I closed my eyes and swore I was watching [i]Star Wars[/i]. That guy has to learn how to act! He can play Sammy Jackson just fine, but how about ANOTHER character?
June 30, 2005
The film means well I suppose, Juliette Binoche is always good to watch, but the film is tiresome and lacks depth. Yet another of the countless "poor me I am black and was supressed movies". The film thinks it is much more important than it is.
June 23, 2005
[color=white][b][u][size=4]In My Country[/size] [size=2](2005)[/size][/u] [/b][/color]
[b]This is a movie that I went to see with an enormous amount of enthusiasm. I thought the trailer was intriguing and I was told by an acquaintance that I should see it. Those are usually two fairly good enough reasons to get me to the theater. In My Country directed by John Boorman attempts to tell a tale of importance, a story about two individuals drawn together in South Africa during the Truth and Conciliation Commission hearings after Apartheid in South Africa.
Juliette Binoche is a local poet who is covering the events for the radio and Samuel L. Jackson is an American journalist sent to get some insight into the Commission's proceedings which were about bringing together people from both sides of the racial conflict and having accused torturers and killers confront their victims and in some way doing penitence and maybe through their contrition being granted a form of amnesty for their past crimes.
The two journalists meet and become personally entwined, this is telescoped way early, maybe as early as the trailer? Their relationship is strengthened by a similar exposure to the social ramifications of the crimes committed and the people who committed them and their victims and the couple's two respective takes on same.
The idea of social reconciliation of two peoples through the Committee's process is a much harder concept for the black American journalist to believe in. He is somehow confronted with his own personal demons when he interviews one of the worst white offenders in the torturous events before Apartheid. Binoche's character is going through a similar yet different kind of personal turmoil caused by her hearing and seeing what her own people have done to their helpless victims. Both of these characters start to find a refuge in each other and both come from fairly dysfunctional backgrounds as we learn, making this an even easier reason for their budding romance.
Of course the fact that one is black and one is white is almost too obvious a "romantic" plot ploy in my opinion. I think it would have been more interesting if both characters had been white frankly..ah but then it would have been another movie, which halfway through I was starting to wish it was. This film is a noble attempt by Boorman to make a serious movie about a serious and frankly important time and issue. Unfortunately the story has very little to do with the Truth and Conciliation Commission, instead using this event more as a background for the melodrama that is the affair between the two antagonists. The initial idea of this film is a great concept, too bad it really doesn?t come to fruition as a picture of this period in history.
I thought, the problems started fairly early, when I thought I noticed Samuel L. Jackson seemed uncomfortable in his skin, so to speak. He was pre-occupied throughout his fairly wooden performance. I realize now I think he was really pretty much mailing it in. If this movie has any saving graces they come from Juliette Binoche who on the contrary seemed to have really done her homework for her role. Her Afrikaans accent seemed legit as if she had spent time with a dialect coach and her spirit throughout was believable and often inspiring. She is a pleasant actress to watch and she doesn't disappoint here. The film does and it just got worse frankly.
In My Country could and should have been a film rich with the storyline of redemption, forgiveness and ultimately love winning over violence, suffering and hatred between two peoples. Instead we get a fairly obvious love story between two people in a film decorated by an important event instead of awash in it. I think it's a shame that the film-makers didn't have many good ideas as to how to pull this one off. There is a weak script, and without a good one, this film which attempts to be important just isn't.
One thing I thought could have been explored more is the fact that post-Apartheid South Africa has a great deal in common with an African-America of today. It is still an unequal community where very little political help has proved to keep people down and unable to sit in at the rich banquet-of-life that is their white counterpart's privilege. This is sad and so is this lackluster film that could have been so much more.[/b][/color]
May 11, 2005
[b][size=4][color=#ff0000][/b][/color][/size]I found this film dissapointing, and overall I find dissapointing Juliette Binoche.
Her character spend all the film crying and crying. The rest of the film is too much conventional.
March 2, 2005
[font=Tms Rmn][size=3]*** IN MY COUNTRY- When Apartheid ended in South Africa, they held [/size][size=3]the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. In these hearings, you could [/size][size=3]confess your sins and be forgiven, providing that you told the truth and could were [/size][size=3]just following orders. Into this true story are some fictional characters; a Washington [/size][size=3]Post reporter (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) and a local reporter (JULIETTE BINOCHE) [/size][size=3]covering the hearings. This is an interesting, if sad, movie about a part of history that [/size][size=3]I wasn't as familiar with as I thought I was. It opens 3/11 in NY and LA.[/size]