Half of a Yellow Sun (2014) - Rotten Tomatoes

Half of a Yellow Sun (2014)



Critic Consensus: While it doesn't quite do justice to the source material, Half of a Yellow Sun adapts Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel with committed performances and narrative nuance.

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Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Upon returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the "revolutionary professor" Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his devoted houseboy Ugwu (John Boyega) in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests, and surprises even herself when she falls in love with Richard (Joseph Mawle), an English writer. Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements, and a betrayal between the sisters, the events of their life seem to loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra as an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire world. (c) Monterey Media
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    R (for some violence and sexual content)
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Joseph Mawle
as Richard
Genevieve Nnaji
as Miss Adebayo
Jude Orhorha
as Harrison
Gloria Young
as Aunty Ifeka
Tina Mba
as Mrs. Ozobia
Wale Ojo
as Chief Okonji
Ayo Lijadu
as Professor Ezeka
Zack Orji
as Chief Ozobia
Kasper Michaels
as Plump Charles
Reginald Ofodile
as Uncle Mbaezi
Paul Hampshire
as Professor Lehman
Rob David
as Redhead Charles
O.C. Ukeje
as Aniekwena
Paresh Behera
as Dr. Patel
Hakeem Kae-Kazim
as Captain Dutse
Divine Emmanuel
as Baby (1 year)
Joy Emmanuel
as Baby (3 years)
Favour Asikpa
as Baby (5 years)
Olawale Obadeyi
as Three Piece Man
Eme Awatt
as Bar Proprietress
Jerome Iniobong
as Bartender
Tony Effah
as Elderly Man
Kanayo Okani
as Young Customs Officer
Nicholas Burns
as Tipsy Guest
Eric Anderson
as Biafran Soldier One
Alvin Ilenre
as Biafran Soldier Two
Effiom Bassey
as Member - Cardinal Rex Lawson & His Rivers Men
Christopher Udom
as Member - Cardinal Rex Lawson & His Rivers Men
Ubong Bassey Inyang
as Member - Cardinal Rex Lawson & His Rivers Men
Ita Asuquo
as Member - Cardinal Rex Lawson & His Rivers Men
Banabas Monday Gimmy
as Member - Cardinal Rex Lawson
Kingsley Bassey
as Member - Cardinal Rex Lawson
Victor Umana
as Member - Cardinal Rex Lawson
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News & Interviews for Half of a Yellow Sun

Critic Reviews for Half of a Yellow Sun

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (12)

Biyi Bandele has excerpted their story from a much wider-ranging narrative, but the action here is still so tightly compressed that this feels like a precis for a movie twice its length.

Full Review… | August 7, 2014
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The best of the movie finds a way to abridge the novel and still allow the scenes to breathe.

Full Review… | July 31, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Like many a lengthy novel, it might have worked better as a television series.

July 10, 2014
Seattle Times
Top Critic

"Half of a Yellow Sun" winds up being one of those movies in which a pesky event of great historical import keeps getting in the way of a soap-opera romance.

Full Review… | July 10, 2014
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

The result is that melodramatic soap opera elements win out over Bandele's attempts at stirring historical drama. That said, it's still a story worth telling.

Full Review… | June 19, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

"Half of a Yellow Sun" deals with human tragedy, but it never really makes a human connection.

Full Review… | May 30, 2014
Detroit News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Half of a Yellow Sun

Overview: In a movie which seems like it should have been a mini-series, we follow a relationship, which grows into a family, over the course of 20 years in Nigeria. After Chiwetel Ejiofor's work in 12 Years a Slave, I wanted to see whether his career would be interesting enough to follow after his Academy Award nomination. After all, while many Academy Award nominees go on to have careers worth following, like Gabourey Sidibe for example, but at the same time there are also many actors who seem to have peaked with their nomination, and soon after release hardly anything noteworthy. Though, alongside Ejiofor, there is also Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose as familiar faces worth noting, as well as John Boyega from Attack the Block who is to have a role in the 2015 Star Wars film. So, with the recognizable names and faces mentioned, let's talk about the movie. Characters & Story The story begins in the 1950s when Queen Elizabeth visits Nigeria and we meet Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) who are twin daughters of a chief who seemingly lives an upper crust life. Olanna, as well as Kainene, are both well-educated and while Olanna plans to be a lecturer at a local college, Kainene plans to work in a high ranking position within Port Harcourt. Then the drama sets in. We learn of Olanna's boyfriend, a fellow lecturer, Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who isn't highly liked by Kainene and is nicknamed "The Revolutionary," and we meet Richard (Joseph Mawle), an English reporter on leave who fancies Kainene. And for most of the movie the focus is the trouble of these two sets of relationships, at least until the Nigerian Civil War. With that, the relationship drama gets thrown in the backseat for surviving becomes imperative, and with Olanna fully committed to Odenigbo, whether poor or rich, we watch as they go through hardship trying to survive in a world in which cultural prejudice has torn their lives apart. Praise The story and acting for each and every single person is done so well. Newton and Rose present two sides of a different coin as twins who may have shared a privileged upbringing, but couldn't be more different. Then, when it comes to Ejiofor as Odenigbo, him being a revolutionary isn't seen necessarily in him raising a gun or using bombs, but more so his thinking and conversations. Most of which help provide some sort of insight on why Biafra was made, as well as archival footage making it so it feels that you get a taste of the environment, as well as Nigeria's history, as much as the characters. Leading to a split in praise for Act 1 and Act 2. Act 1 features mostly relationship drama and to me, it felt soap opera like enough to keep you intrigued, but not so overdone it made you roll your eyes. And even when you take away the romantic story of Olanna and Odenigbo, and factor in Ugwu, you are presented a quality story about this kid taken in and seemingly raised like a surrogate son. Then, when it comes to Act 2, it feels like an almost edutainment history lesson. One in which the main points of the Nigerian civil war are noted while an entertaining narrative is given. Criticism But I must say, as interesting as this film is, it feels way too long. Which could be a testament to my attention span, or just because as much drama that is in this film, I just feel like no one really grabs a hold of you with their performances. For while heartbreaking things happen, people get passionate about love, politics, and other topics, the actors never transcend from playing a role to presenting people. Due to that, I felt a sort of disconnect which made it so I was more so seeing Ejiofor, Newton, Rose and etc., vs Odenigbo, Olanna, and Kainene. Overall: TV Viewing This is the type of film which seems like it would do better as a mini-series. Which I say because sometimes the film just seems like it tried to cram as much as possible, when it comes to the characters, the story, and the history of Nigeria, that it looks like with breathing room it could have been better. Plus, I feel with time it could have made it where the actors could have settled into their roles more and allowed their characters to seem more natural. For, in my opinion, while the performances were good, a part of me also felt like they were performing more so for accolades than to really tell their character's story. Leading to the main reason this is labeled TV Viewing: It just doesn't keep your attention. For as good as the actors are, and how interesting the story is at times, it's hard to stay engaged throughout. Be it because you don't feel like the actors get lost in the characters, the overall length of the film, or maybe even perhaps the unfamiliarity with the history of Nigeria, it leads to you possibly losing interest after awhile and yet coming back just to see how everything ends.

Amari Sali
Amari Sali

All the ingredients for a grand, vital, masterful drama are there in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 2006 novel centered on the Nigerian civil war of the 1960's, but rather than distill the novel, the movie adaptation, from novelist and playwright Biyi Bandele in his feature debut, the film rushes through nearly all of it, burying terrific performances from leads Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton as the wealthy, emotionally complex couple. It all becomes as overwhelming as the unrelenting events of the film. Still, there's no missing this stunner.

Manny Casillas
Manny Casillas

Almost felt like 2 different movies. The story needed tighter translation of the events happening. Thandie & Chiwetel are great as always.

Leon Burke
Leon Burke

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