Friday, 27 May 2016


Incompetence reigns in Nina, a blazing beacon to light the way of 'What Not To Do' when making a movie. An exploitative industry unmasked and unwittingly unpicked in this most egregious example of it - in the basic conceit and in the efforts to disguise that exploitation. Put simply: to 'honour' the life of Nina Simone, one of the most gifted, outspoken, influential figures in the Civil Rights Movement, with a treatment so dishonest, so misguided is a grave insult to the woman herself and to the whole movement; to proffer the legitimacy of that treatment, to insist upon its artistic and political merit, is to discredit all that both she and they stood for. Nina is no mere mistake either, since its callous distortion of history and honesty is entirely willful, an attempt at bolstering dramatic intensity at the expense of dramatic integrity. This is a common trait among films based on true events, but it's a despicable one when it contributes to a betrayal of the nature and purpose of those events. To boot, Nina is also an example of hideous filmmaking, truly awesome awfulness. Cynthia Mort's direction is devoid of atmosphere, structure, at times even a fundamental understanding of how to frame an image so that it is comprehensible. Her script is one clunking platitude after another, lacking in the most rudimentary knowledge of its subject's character, consistently shoehorning truths about her life into false constructs to add more conventional 'colour.' Speaking of colour, the skin-darkening makeup on Zoe Saldana is as offensive as the effort to make this size 2 stunner appear plump is stupid; Saldana is no better, barely approximating Simone's speaking voice, completely missing her singing voice, imbuing her with not a jot of her passion at any point. It's a horrible, amateurish impersonation, resembling Simone no more than it resembles a human being, which is rather little indeed. A catastrophic biopic - surely one of the worst ever made.