Mapantsula

  • 1989
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Political

The lack of critical consensus that has accompanied the release of anti-apartheid films points to the fundamental drawback of these movies and social-issue dramas in general: they tend to be films that are good for you more often than they are good films. MAPANTSULA is afflicted with this well-intentioned failing. MAPANTSULA (Zulu dialect for small-time...read more

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The lack of critical consensus that has accompanied the release of anti-apartheid films points to the fundamental drawback of these movies and social-issue dramas in general: they tend to be films that are good for you more often than they are good films. MAPANTSULA is afflicted with

this well-intentioned failing. MAPANTSULA (Zulu dialect for small-time crook) revolves around the political awakening of Panic (Thomas Mogotlane), a petty thief. At the beginning, Panic's political rebellion is limited to robbing whites foolish enough to stray into his neighborhood. Since Panic

has once before informed on a fellow criminal to gain an early prison parole, when he is arrested again, the authorities feel confident they can coerce him into informing again--this time on an anti-apartheid activist with whom Panic's girl friend has become friendly. Panic's story is told in

flashback, with the film beginning when he's arrested. But, regrettably, this structure only serves to fragment and confuse the drama. Burdened with its cumbersome flashback structure and a surfeit of subplots, the drama becomes scattershot and ineffective. So much about MAPANTSULA is so right,

from its first-rate cast, to its rich cinematography and score. But, in the final analysis, this is a frustrating film that never quite makes an effective mix of its powerful ingredients.

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  • Released: 1989
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The lack of critical consensus that has accompanied the release of anti-apartheid films points to the fundamental drawback of these movies and social-issue dramas in general: they tend to be films that are good for you more often than they are good films.… (more)

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