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16 Ratings

Mister Johnson

Directed by Bruce Beresford
United Kingdom, United States, 1990
Drama, History


Africa 1923: A clash of cultures between British imperalists and a black man too smart for his own good.

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Mister Johnson Directed by Bruce Beresford
Mister Johnson (1990) is a film that rewards and perhaps even requires more than one viewing, for its tone is elusive and its outcome a shock… The novel is written in the present tense… Beresford and screenwriter William Boyd stay faithful to that notion, honestly reflecting the attitudes of the story’s time and place and making no anachronistic concessions to modern-day political correctness or postcolonial outrage. The ironies and indignities emerge all the more strongly as a result.
September 24, 2015
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Ultimately, Mister Johnson concerns the relationship between Johnson and Rudbeck, with the latter’s attitude toward the former evolving from exasperated tolerance to friendship and respect. Their final scene together, in particular, earns the pathos for which it strives, though Beresford can’t leave well enough alone and chooses to conclude with a maudlin montage of random people going about their oblivious business, supplemented by a shot of sunlight peeking through tree leaves.
September 23, 2015
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Since Beresford cares for these characters as creations and lively figures, the performances overwhelm the scenario and continue to necessitate a return to individual scenes for potential nuances that prove elusive on an initial viewing.
September 21, 2015
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