Take a Drink: whenever differences between the Hausa and Igbo are mentioned
Take a Drink: every time someone has sex
Take a Drink: for mentions of sisterdom or twinhood
Take a Drink: for newsreel footage
Take a Drink: whenever Momma does what she wants
Take a Drink: for rice
Do a Shot: for the worst wedding ever
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
I haven’t done nearly as much reading in the last year or so as I should after getting my first tablet, unless you count pretty much every AVClub article, I guess… Oh, and I started reading Game of Thrones as well, so that’s pretty much swallowed the rest of my reading time.
I can see why Martin needs six years to write one of these bricks
One book I did read, and found to be simply excellent, epic and personal, with beautiful writing and character work, was Half of a Yellow Sun. Now we have the inevitable adaptation. The story follows Nigerian twin sisters Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) as they live, love, and eventually struggle to survive during the Nigerian Civil War and the short, meteoric existence of the Republic of Biafra.
This film does do things quite well- establish a vibrant, realistic setting and act. The former is due to first-time director Biyi Bandele, a respected playwright and theater director moving into film, and really succeeding on the technical side. He has a nice handle on the scope of the project, and delivers a well-shot and beautifully scored (with a mix of classical and African themes) look at Africa, particularly 1960s Africa, that most audiences never get exposed to. He also has a surprisingly good handle on wartime action.
The second part is due to the cast, which includes Newton, Rose, newly minted Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, the fast-rising (Star Wars, baby!) John Boyega, and J0seph Mawle.
What happens when you leave Jay Baruchel out in the sun too long.
All of them acquit themselves well, with Boyega in particular displaying a new, very different side from his badass turn in Attack the Block and Newton sinking her teeth into a role for the first time in seemingly forever.
I hate to be the “the novel’s so much better!” guy, but it is, and the main reason is that it has more room to properly develop a cast of characters this large while also orienting the reader in a largely unfamiliar place and historical period. The adaptation of the novel, though, whiffs on most of that. There’s simply too much going on to properly develop all of these characters in under two hours, and either some of the characters, or some of the extraneous plotting should’ve been sacrificed for the greater good.
Like say, half the affairs… so many damn affairs!!!
When they do focus on certain characters over others, they pick the less interesting ones. Newton and Ejiofor are the biggest names in the cast, but their characters’ story was part of a balanced whole in the book, which made its revelations and tragedies that much more impactful. In the film, we lose track of the way more emotionally complex Kainene, or Boyega’s harrowing and morally ambiguous journey through the war as part of a group of child soldiers, so their roles in the climax don’t affect you nearly as strongly.
So, instead of the epic sweep of the novel, most of what is preserved is the melodrama. Frankly, sex is not a shortcut to character development. Finding out who is sleeping with who is only interesting when we care about the whos involved. Also annoying is the “what happened to them later” text over the credits, which positions this as a true story which it, well, totally isn’t. I don’t care that x little girl grows up to be a doctor, because x little girl is totally fake. So dumb.
Half of a Yellow Sun boast some good acting and production values, but seriously, just go read the far, far superior book.