Life, Above All (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

Life, Above All (2011)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Just after the death of her newly-born sister, Chanda, 12 years old, learns of a rumor that spreads like wildfire through her small, dust-ridden village near Johannesburg. It destroys her family and forces her mother to flee. Sensing that the gossip stems from prejudice and superstition, Chanda leaves home and school in search of her mother and the truth. Life, Above All is an emotional and universal drama about a young girl (stunningly performed by first-time-actress Khomotso Manyaka) who fights the fear and shame that have poisoned her community. The film captures the enduring strength of loyalty and a courage powered by the heart. Directed by South African filmmaker Oliver Schmitz (Mapantsula), it is based on the international award winning novel Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton. -- (C) Sony Classicsmore
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic material and some sexual content)
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Dennis Foon
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 6, 2011
Box Office: $0.1M
Runtime:
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site

Cast

Tinah Mnumzana
as Aunt Lizbet
Rami Cuene
as Aunty Ruth
Jerry Marobyane
as Mr. Pheto
Patrick Shai
as Dr. Chilume
Nelson Motloung
as Mr. Chauke
Ernest Mokoena
as Sipho Mandla
Mary Twala
as Mrs. Gulubane
Themba Ndaba
as Mr. Selalame
Samuel Masilela
as Young Man
Bhekifa Isaac Nyathi
as Ruth's Boyfriend
Sarah Aphane
as Receptionist
Foxy Riet
as Nurse Nkosi
Solly Moeng
as Police Officer
Xolile Gama
as Mr. Kamwendo
Martha Maphaka
as Granny Thela
Malanane Mohlamonyan...
as Dudu's Male Friend
Regina Makitla
as Truck Stop Hooker #2
Wendy Makua
as Passing Nosy Woman #...
Zanele Xekwa
as Passing Nosy Woman #...
Selinah Madihlaba
as Choir Member #1
Priscar Mashego
as Choir Member #2
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Life, Above All

Critic Reviews for Life, Above All

All Critics (72) | Top Critics (25)

A well-meaning but ploddingly earnest after-school special...

Full Review… | September 15, 2011
Miami Herald
Top Critic

"Life, Above All" earns the tears it inspires. The film is about deep human emotions, evoked with sympathy and love.

Full Review… | September 1, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Perseverance is the theme of "Life, Above All," a drama that is deeply affecting, if also overwhelmingly bleak.

Full Review… | August 25, 2011
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

There is less in-your-face grit in Cape Town-born director Oliver Schmitz's vision for this film than there is a careful pacing of somber revelations.

Full Review… | August 19, 2011
Seattle Times
Top Critic

In such a bleak story, the redemptive ending seems rushed and unconvincing, but director Oliver Schmitz has sent us a timely dispatch from a forgotten corner of the world that is honest above all.

Full Review… | August 12, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

This is a heartening story of resilience told without false uplift. It is hopeful without being mawkish, realistic but not oppressive.

Full Review… | August 5, 2011
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Life, Above All

"Life, Above All" hit me harder emotionally than any movie I have ever seen. Shame withers the soul, born from an unawareness of why we are who we are. Here, we watch a young girl experience the devastating effects that shame has on all the people she cares about. Nothing good comes from shame. Empathy is the answer. Encouragement is the answer. Education is the answer. What our young heroin does here is the answer.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

½

As young as she is, Chanda(Khomotso Manyaka) is forced to be the adult of the house when her infant sister dies. Her mother(Lerato Mvelase) is obviously emotionally distraught while her stepfather Jonah(Aubrey Poolo) finds comfort in other women and controlled substances. In fact, Chanda has to steal back the money for the funeral from him. At least, she has help from her friend Esther(Keaobaka Makanyane) while Mrs. Tafa(Harriet Lenabe), a neighbor, takes Chanda's two younger siblings(Thato Kgaladi & Mapaseka Mathebe) in to babysit during the funeral. On the other hand, her mother's family is little help at all, just sending one reluctant representative, her Aunt Lizbet(Tinah Mnumzana). In this maelstrom, Chanda even tries to attend school but is informed by her teacher that she can have a couple of days off.

With an extended introduction that has a tenuous link to the rest of the story, "Life, Above All" is an earnest and compelling coming of age movie. At the same time, it also has much to say about the sad state of current healthcare in South Africa, dominated as it is by quacks, past traditions and overwhelmed hospitals, with a special emphasis on AIDS which is treated as a shameful affliction while the true shame is how the disease's victims are treated so badly. At least, Chanda is a beacon of hope for her country's future, considering her intelligence, bravery and compassion.

Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

First of all the acting in this film is simply amazing, this is probably the best "mother / daughter relationship " movie that I have ever seen, made with no money, in THE poorest continent in the world and with superb results, YEAH!!!

Life, Above All Quotes

Chanda: It's not her... It's you who worked so hard.
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)
Chanda: I'll always be you friend, you know.
Chanda: Even if people say bad things about your family.
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Life, Above All on our Movie forum!