Boesman and Lena (2000)


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Angela Bassett and Danny Glover star in this gripping film adaptation of Athol Fugard's renowned play. Though written during the apex of apartheid and first staged in 1970, director John Berry downplays the work's historical background and strips the play of its poetic symbolism, lending the film a raw, universal quality. The film opens with stock footage of shantytowns being flattened by bulldozers followed by the two titular characters carrying what they can on their backs and heads. Recalling the tortured human bonds seen in such productions as Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? and Waiting for Godot, Boesman (Glover) and Lena (Bassett) are a couple united by pain and grief. Stopping at some god-forsaken roadside wasteland for the night, Lena spends much of the first half of the film heaping verbal abuse on her husband, while Boesman doggedly tries to jerry-rig some shelter to protect against the cold of the night. This dynamic changes went an elderly African tribesman shows up. Boesman scorns the old man, while Lena invites him to sit at their campfire. This film, which was screened at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, was the last film that noted director John Berry made before his death on November 29, 1999.

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Critic Reviews for Boesman and Lena

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (5)

John Berry's last film, before he passed away, contains moving performances from Angela Bassett and Danny Glover.

Nov 21, 2005 | Rating: 4/5

Angela Bassett is striking, but the film never attempts to be anything more than a filmed play.

Jul 25, 2002 | Rating: 1/5

This story, although set in South Africa, could be told of millions of other couples all over the world.

May 17, 2001 | Full Review…

Never completely escapes its theatrical origins, but as the film progresses, it becomes increasingly powerful.

Mar 12, 2001 | Full Review…

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