A Dry White Season (1989) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Dry White Season (1989)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

A Dry White Season Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Schoolteacher Ben du Toit (Donald Sutherland) has been insulated all his life from the horrors of apartheid in his native South Africa. Perhaps he really didn't want to know. When the son of his black gardener is arrested and beaten as a result of a schoolboy protest in Soweto, at first he imagines the police must have had their reasons. However, the boy is picked up again, and this time he doesn't come back. Ben promises his servant that he will look into the incident, and discovers that the boy was killed simply to gratify the violent urges of Captain Stolz (Jurgen Prochnow), a "special branch" policeman. At long last he has gotten a glimpse into the truly arbitrary and violent nature of the system he has so long benefitted from, and he hires Ian Mackenzie (Marlon Brando) to prosecute the killer. It is a foregone conclusion that Stolz will not be punished, but Mackenzie rises to new heights of withering sarcasm and irony in the courtroom. This situation turns Ben into a radical firebrand, which alienates him from his white friends and neighbors, as well as members of his family.more
Rating: R
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Colin Welland, Alison Cross, Euzhan Palcy
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 8, 2005


Donald Sutherland
as Ben du Toit
Marlon Brando
as Ian McKenzie
Winston Ntshona
as Gordon Ngubene
Zakes Mokae
as Stanley Makhaya
Susan Sarandon
as Melanie Bruwer
Janet Suzman
as Susan du Toit
Jürgen Prochnow
as Capt. Stolz
Thoko Ntshinga
as Emily Ngubene
Susannah Harker
as Suzette du Toit
Leonard Maguire
as Mr. Bruwer
Rowen Elmes
as Johan du Toit
Gerard Thoolen
as Col. Viljoen
Stella Dickin
as Susan's Mother
David de Keyser
as Susan's Father
John Kani
as Julius
Sophie Mgcina
as Margaret
Precious Thiri
as Wellington
Michael Gambon
as Magistrate
Paul Brooke
as Dr. Herzog
Ernest Ndlovu
as Archibald Mabaso
Stephen Hanly
as Sgt. Van Zyl
Grant Davidson
as Lt. Venter
Sello Maake
as Johnson Seroke
Charles Pillai
as Dr. Hassiem
Rosemary Martin
as Mrs. Beachley
Willie Zweni
as Aubrey Kunene
Mannie de Villiers
as Police Commandant
Anna Manimanzi
as Soweto Girl
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for A Dry White Season

Critic Reviews for A Dry White Season

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (11)

Searing, powerful and eye-opening.

Full Review… | September 28, 2015
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

This film is unblinking in its depiction of the most violent side of apartheid.

Full Review… | September 28, 2015
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

This is filmmaking meant to engage the heart -- and other visceral organs -- more than the mind; its effects are simple, broad and directly put.

Full Review… | September 28, 2015
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

The relentless plot is effectively set up and expertly pursued, and Hugh Masekela makes some striking contributions to Dave Grusin's musical score.

Full Review… | October 7, 2012
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's filled with obvious, earnest performances--Marlon Brando's ironic and subtle one is the only exception--and unresonant writing.

Full Review… | October 7, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A wrenching picture about South Africa that makes no expedient compromises with feel-good entertainment values, A Dry White Season displays riveting performances and visceral style.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for A Dry White Season


It's too bad that such a well-intentioned movie is so mediocre. Cliche-riddled, convoluted writing and often haphazard choices made by director Euzhan Palcy are too blatant too be ignored. Donald Sutherland is a convincing but uncompelling lead, and Susan Sarandon's vocal work is laughable. In a shamefully small amount of screen time, Marlon Brando leaves a stronger impression than anyone else in the movie.

Mike T.

Super Reviewer


Very good! Important movie released before the apartheid was over in South Africa that shows us a little bit of the atrocities caused by such a cruel regime. Good movie that is unknown to most people.

Donald Sutherland plays a naive schoolteacher who apparently didn't notice the problems of Apartheid in South Africa. Overall kinda weak, but the acting is brilliant, especially from Marlon Brando and Jurgen Prochnow.

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