×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Out of Africa

With:
Karen - Meryl Streep Denys - Robert Redford Bror - Klaus Maria Brandauer Berkeley - Michael Kitchen Farah - Malick Bowens Kamante - Joseph Thiaka Kinanjui - Stephen Kinyanjui Delamere - Michael Gough Felicity - Suzanna Hamilton Lady Belfield - Rachel Kempson Lord Belfield - Graham Crowden

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089755/?ref_=nv_sr_1

At two-and-a-half hours, “Out of Africa” certainly makes a leisurely start into its story. Just short of boredom, however, the picture picks up pace and becomes a sensitive, enveloping romantic tragedy. Nonetheless it’s a long way to go for a downbeat ending, which may hurt broad appeal.

Getting top billing over Robert Redford, Meryl Streep surely earns it with another engaging performance. Still, the film rarely really comes to life except when Redford is around, which unfortunately is not often in the first hour.

Ably produced and directed by Sydney Pollack, “Africa” is the story of Isak Dinesen, who wrote of her experiences in Kenya. Though Dinesen (real name: Karen Blixen) remembered it lovingly, hers was not a happy experience.

She arrives in 1914 for a marriage of convenience with Baron Bror Blixen (well played by Klaus Maria Brandauer) who offers his title and friendship in exchange for her money. But he doesn’t provide love, fidelity or even much company, leaving her alone with the natives for the gritty work of getting a coffee plantation going.

Often, her only amusements are the occasional visits of white hunters Redford and Michael Kitchen (also good), attracted by her strong will and love of the land. With one landscape after another, Pollack and lenser David Watkin prove repeatedly why she should love the land so, but at almost travelog drag. The mannered speech and customs of the times do not hurry matters along either.

Eventually, Streep and Brandauer split, leaving an opening for Redford to move in. True love follows, but not happiness because he’s too independent to be tied down by a marriage certificate. And the coffee plantation isn’t perking along too well, either.

Within the doomed dimensions, however, it’s a wonderful romance, probably Redford’s best since “The Way We Were.” He plays his initial casual counterpoint to her seriousness perfectly, followed by his gradual coming to grips with the concessions that will be needed to keep her.

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. And that’s probably equally true for every strong scene with a solid cast. But too long remains too long.

Har.

Out of Africa

Production: A Universal Pictures release. Produced and directed by Sydney Pollack. Stars Meryl Streep, Robert Redford. Executive producer, Kim Jorgensen. Screenplay, Kurt Luedtke, based on writings by Isak Dinesen, Judith Thurman and Errol Trzebinski.

Crew: Camera (Rank color), David Watkin; editors, Fredric Steinkamp, William Steinkamp, Pembroke Herring, Sheldon Kahn; sound, Peter Handford; coproducer, Terence Clegg; production design, Stephen Grimes; costumes, Milena Canonero; assistant director, David Tomblin; associate producers, Judith Thurman, Anna Cataldi; music, John Barry; casting, Mary Selway. (MPAA Rating: PG.) Reviewed at Universal Studios, L.A., Dec. 6, 1985. Running time: 150 MINS. Original review text from 1985.

With: Karen - Meryl Streep Denys - Robert Redford Bror - Klaus Maria Brandauer Berkeley - Michael Kitchen Farah - Malick Bowens Kamante - Joseph Thiaka Kinanjui - Stephen Kinyanjui Delamere - Michael Gough Felicity - Suzanna Hamilton Lady Belfield - Rachel Kempson Lord Belfield - Graham Crowden

More Film

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2016’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Makes Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

  • Fanny Litard, Jérémy Trouilh on ‘Blue

    France’s Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh Discuss MyFFF Suburban Fable ‘Blue Dog’

    French filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh met at university while studying political science before diverging towards separate careers. Trouilh trained in documentary filmmaking; Liatard worked on urban artistic projects in Lebanon and France. They eventually joined back up to film three shorts: “Gagarine,” a Sundance Channel Shorts Competition Jury Prize winner in 2016; “The [...]

  • MFFF: 'The Collection' Director Blanchard Readies

    'The Collection' Director Emmanuel Blanchard Readies First Feature

    Paris-born Emmanuel Blanchard studied and then taught history before becoming a documentary filmmaker responsible for films such as “Bombing War,” “Le diable de la République” and “Après la guerre.” He’s currently directing “Notre-Dame de Paris”, a 90-minute animated part-doc, part-fiction film on the building of the world-famous Paris cathedral. Competing at MyFFF, “The Collection” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content