Out of Africa (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Out of Africa (1985)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Though lensed with stunning cinematography and featuring a pair of winning performances from Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, Out of Africa suffers from excessive length and glacial pacing.

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Movie Info

Out of Africa is drawn from the life and writings of Danish author Isak Dinesen, who during the time that the film's events occured was known by her married name, Karen Blixen-Flecke. For convenience's sake, Karen (Meryl Streep) has married Baron Bor Blixen-Flecke (Klaus Maria Brandauer). In 1914, the Baron moves himself and his wife to a plantation in Nairobi, then leaves Karen to her own devices as he returns to his womanizing and drinking. Soon, Karen has fallen in love with charming white hunter Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford), who prefers a no-strings relationship. A woman who prides herself on her independence, Blixen finds herself unhappily in thrall to a aloof man -- and doubly unhappy for living out such a cliché situation. Although Redford received a lion's share of criticism for his too-American performance, Streep has rarely been better, and the film's perfectly measured pace is offset by David Watkin's stunning location photography. The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 7, including Best Picture, Best Director for Sydney Pollack, Best Adapted Screenplay for Kurt Luedtke, and Best Cinematography for Watkin. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Rating:
PG (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre:
Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Universal Pictures

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Cast

Meryl Streep
as Karen Blixen
Robert Redford
as Denys Finch Hatton
Klaus Maria Brandauer
as Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke
Michael Kitchen
as Berkeley
Suzanna Hamilton
as Felicity
Michael Gough
as Delamere
Rachel Kempson
as Lady Belfield
Joseph Thiaka
as Kamante
Graham Crowden
as Lord Belfield
Leslie Phillips
as Sir Joseph
Shane Rimmer
as Belknap
Job Seda
as Kanuthia
Mohammed Umar
as Ismail
Donal McCann
as Doctor
Kenneth Mason
as Banker
Tristram Jellinek
as 1st Commissioner
Stephen B. Grimes
as 2nd Commissioner
Annabel Maule
as Lady Byrne
Benny Young
as Minister
Sbish Trzebinski
as Beefy Drunk
Niven Boyd
as Young Officer
Iman
as Mariammo
Peter Strong
as Huge Man
Amanda Parkin
as Victoria
Muriel Gross
as Lady Delamere
Ann Palmer
as Dowager
Keith Pearson
as Missionary Teacher
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Critic Reviews for Out of Africa

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (11)

The relationship between Karen Blixen and her British lover, Denys Finch Hatton, may fail to catch fire. But the production itself is so exquisitely served that you can't help but be grateful for this extraordinary visual treat.

Full Review… | February 21, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

The relationship of Karen and Denys is a prickly and, despite the era in which it is set, curiously modern one. It's also at the heart of this understated movie.

Full Review… | January 6, 2014
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Streep may convince us utterly that she is in love with Africa, but our views of it are a little too stately to really feel the place.

Full Review… | January 6, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

My basic problem with this otherwise sumptuous and well-acted film is that I never was able to accept Redford in character.

Full Review… | January 6, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Out of Africa is, at last, the free-spirited, fullhearted gesture that everyone has been waiting for the movies to make all decade long. It reclaims the emotional territory that is rightfully theirs.

Full Review… | February 20, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Maybe the problem of the pacing is simply the nature of the beast these days with expensive period pieces. Once the difficult details are all in place, it may be too much to expect a director to resist milking every scene for more than it's worth.

Full Review… | January 28, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Out of Africa

Excellent acting. This is the film I think of when I hear Klaud Maria Brandauer's name. And Maryl Streep can do no wrong. Solid performance by Redford. Beautiful film making.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

Incredible in so many ways. Full review later.

Thomas Bowler
Thomas Bowler

Super Reviewer

The Academy certainly loves the Prestige Picture, don't they? This film filled that niche in 1985, and it was decided that this was the film that should take home the big awards that night. Some of them are deserved, don't get me wrong, but I think this film is just really good, and not a classic. Like many prestige pictures, it's a sweeping romantic historical epic based on actual events and various published sources. It's a lengthy movie too, which makes me wonder if all prestige pictures have to be pushing 3 hours if not longer. Thankfully that's not a requirement to win Best Picture, though many of those winners do have some long running times, sometimes unnecessarily so. This particular film, despite being a lengthy romantic historical epic is one I found myself enjoying more than I sometimes tend to with these sorts of things. It is the stroy of a Danish Baroness who, from 1914-1931 ran a coffee plantation with her philandering husband in Kenya. While there, she broke out of her shell, falling in love with both the land and a big game hunter who really showed her how to live. It's a good story, but this movie is really just a rather simple romantic melodrama that seems really special because of the wodnerful costumes, art direction, set design, landscapes, music, and cinematography. Oh yeah, and the terrific performances. If it weren't for these things, this film wouldn't be all that great. For what it is though, it is enjoyable. Meryl Streep is fantastic as always, adding another well done accent to her resume. Robert Redford is also really good, though, curiously enough, he plays a Brit who speaks with an American accent... Apparently Redford wanted to use a Brit. accent and even filmed some stuff using it, but Sydney Pollack decided that an All-American like Redford speaking with a British accent might confuse people so he had him not use it. Hmm, that's an odd decision, and not a good one either. Michael Kitchen and Klaus Maria Brandauer also give good performances, though this is mainly the Streep and Redford show. The actors playing the Africans with more substantial roles are also not bad. Many films involving Europeans in exotic places tend to carry a certain bias in their portrayal of the foreign land and people. This film is no exception, but thankfully it doesn't come off quite as pandering and typical as it could have. Here's the thing: this movie has some interesting characters and situations, but those are least least interesting parts of the movie, even though they are supposed to be. What really had me was the cinematogrpahy and the John Barry's score, even though I could detect some shades of his later score for Dances With Wolves. The film tries to put things into a historical context, but I felt they could have done more with it, and had the filmfocus less on the character romance, and more on some sort fo specific plot. I mean hell, it's set in Africa from 1914-1931. There's all sorts of great material there for a truly wonderful film. Okay, enough of that. I did like this movie, but I don't think it's truly that special. Yes, some of it is impressive, but it mostly just plays it safe and follows formula. Sometimes, that's okay, but I was really expecting more. However, I liked it enough to give it the rating I've given it, so there.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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