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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 9 July 2005
This skillfully written and brilliantly acted drama keeps the viewer gripped to the screen throughout. It is worthy of showing to your children to inform them about the brutality of South Africa's history and to show the importance of facing that history but also it conveys most powerfully the strength of forgiveness and the need for that forgiveness in order to move forward away from the dreadful past.
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on 4 January 2009
I wish I could say that this movie was a brave and challenging window onto an issue which everyone should know about. While everyone should indeed know of the work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the idea that confession brings absolution not punishment, with all the pain which that can entail, is a worthy study for a film, this film ain't it. Good intentions do not good movies make.

First there's the problem of Hilary Swank. Like most American stars brought into a movie to boost budgets and distribution, she sticks out like a sore thumb. The character, an ex-pat lawyer returning to her homeland to represent someone involved in a Truth and Reconciliation hearing, is not quite marginal, but almost. Her efforts at a South African accent are intermittent, to put it politely, and her lacklustre performance seems to scream "What am I doing here?" - a question echoed by the audience.

There's another acting problem in the presence of Chiwetel Ejiofor as Alex Mpondo, an ANC politician opposing an amnesty for a policeman who killed his best friend and tortured him. In the process of his opposition he is revealed to have had feet of clay. Now this is territory for moral anguish, but Ejiofor really can't suggest anything more than mild indigestion; plus you have to wonder why a Nigerian actor is standing in for a South African.

Then there's the script, by TV veteran Troy Kennedy Martin. Oh, those words! They go on and on and on. You keep wanting to scream, don't tell me, show me. One of the problems is the wordy format of the Courtroom Drama, which fits ill with the grey ambiguities which result from the avoidance of the punishment so ardently desired by so many victims of Apartheid. And when it's not being wordy and cliched with that particular genre, it's being deeply patronising to its other long-suffering black characters, whose nobility stifles their individuality in 1960s Sidney Poitier style.

Most crucially the script fluffs the central issue, which is of the flawed character of Mpondo. Did he betray his friend or didn't he? All sorts of bets are hedged here, but the brave thing for the movie to say would have been that anyone is capable of cracking under torture, and that doesn't make them any less of a worthwhile person.

None of the flaws are mitigated by the slack direction of Tom Hooper, never averse to lingering over a sunset when the interminable drama demands he get a move on.

This is a movie with its heart in the right place - but the heart needs a pacemaker.
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on 4 September 2009
Any one with an interest in the history of South Africa will find this account of post Apartheit reconcilliation revealing. The subject is dealt with honstly and with sincerity. The main characters were played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ian Roberts, Hilary Swank, a perfect combination.
The murder and ill treatment of so many politcal prisoners during the Apartheit Regime was brought together in one story.
A fascinating and gripping film.
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on 9 July 2005
Just saw this on TV. I liked, but I am still amazed as to the attocities that went on in South Africa. Makes me wonder what else went on that we don't know about. This film gives those who don't know, like me, an insight as to what went on. Beautifully shot, well cast and with plenty of good mood music to back it up, this film is a good one to what, but is very serious, as you would expect.
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VINE VOICEon 14 May 2009
This is the best movie I have seen about the true horrors of Apartheid and how Nelson Mandela chose to deal with it. The setting up of the Truth and Reconciliation Commision instead of calling for widespread bloodshed is one of the many reasons he is a statesman. The TRC travelled the country listening to people call for answers from the people who once brutalised them. In return for offering up the truth into what happened to people in custody or those who were simply never seen again former oppresors and torturors were given amnesty.

Red Dust follows one of these cases. Mr Hendricks is a former policeman who wants to come clean about what he did to Alex Mpondo after arresting him and therefore garner amnesty. Alex is now an MP and is challenging the application as he wants to know what happened to a friend who was arrested alongside him and was never seen again.

The script is excellent and the cinematography brings out the townships of South Africa. The story is realistic and excellent acting brings out the emotions surrounding cases such as these brilliantly. I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion. The suspense is subtle as the events surrounding Alex's incarceration and torture are revealed in addition to the fate of his friend.

Highly recommended. Certainly a lot better than 'In my Country' which is another movie revolving around the TRC.
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on 30 January 2014
The DVD arrived Quickly & was in perfect condition. RED DUST is a MUST SEE MOVIE, it tells of the aftermath of the Cruel & Barbaric Apartheid Regime in South Africa. When Nelson Mandela set up the Truth & Reconciliation Council. I would highly recommend that you take the time to watch this movie.
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on 15 January 2014
Fiction but possibly the truth.
I struggled with the book this movie is based on and I struggled with the movie. Hilary Swank is not my favourite by any means but she does make a fair stab at the part, and as for her Afrikaans accent as one commentator has commented on, in this case wasn't needed for if he/she had watched the movie her character had been in the States for years and wouldn't have such a pronounced accent.
Why did I struggle? I cannot believe that Mandela and those who suffered under this hateful regime can forgive so easily, I simply cannot understand why so many perpetrators are walking free after simply saying sorry. Sorry I'm not made that way, make the punishments fit the crimes, some of which were totally unacceptable in an alleged modern society!
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on 12 April 2013
I was so looking forward to this film, and like what we saw of it, but the DVD was damaged so could not watch it all which kinda spoilt it. I hope you will appreciate how disapointed we were. thanks.
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on 26 May 2013
Great acting (authentic South African accents!) and raises some challenging questions about the concepts of punishment, revenge and forgiveness in the aftermath of apartheid. However, not for the faint hearted.
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on 25 December 2012
I even sat through the director's commentary to try and understand what he was going for, but I have to disagree with his conclusions. Sorry mate, this film is terrible!

Its a great idea, poignant subject matter we should all concern ourselves with.

Hilary Swank is dreadful in this... why they didn't choose a South African actress?! I don't buy the director commentary explanation 'we wanted her to be Americanized' She wouldn't lose her accent so strongly. The script is soooo slow!

However, the Xhosa parts are good, the costumes and set design is good but the acting isn't as good as it could have been (mainly the white cast are unconvincing while the black actors in the film put heart into their roles) but really what would have saved this film is a decent fast moving script that makes more sense than all these cryptic clues.
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