Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
THE BANG BANG CLUB
Directed by: Steven Silver
Running time: 106 min.
Release date: April 22 (NY, LA), April 29 (DC, Seattle), May 13, 2011 (San Diego)
Genre: Drama, Biopic, and Adaptation
Distributor: Tribeca Films
MPAA Rating: R
Adapted for the screen and based on the book "The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War", co-written by Marinovich and Silva, The Bang Bang Club is the true life experiences of four white South African combat photographers during the apartheid-sanctioned violence of the 1960s. This cinematic journal of an era aimed at time from Nelson Mandela's release from prison to the first nonracial elections in their two of them would be dead (one by his own hand).
The Bang-Bang Club is a memoir of a time of rivalry, comradeship, machismo, and exhilarating exploits of South African four photojournalists Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Joao Silva (Neels Van Jaarveld), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitach), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach) as they documented their country's transition to democracy.
This is a riveting narrative feature film of adrenaline photo junkies who partied hard and prized the shot above all else. The movie depicts them as overwheemingly ambitious, egotistical, reckless, and selfish potheads, though also brave and evenly principled. With exciting performances by headlining cast members, their characteristics are portrayed as investors in their country's future, even though, as whites, they were strangers in their own land and the black townships where ANC and Zulo conflict.
The mixture of the romantic appeal of the war correspondent with honest assets is part of what makes this account so compelling and so singular among films of its kind. As in all fictionalized versions of any story, there is a romantic twist between characters. Such is the fact in this movie between Ryan Phillippe and Malin Akerman as Robin Comley, an editor of The Star newspaper.
This is a difficult watch for the faint of heart because of the appearances of archival footage by the South African people depicting actual atrocities. Yet, the audience will see the brutality and gore of the situation in South Africa in its grim realities.
The only flaw in this thought provoking film is that it's difficult to form any sort of idea of what motivated the main character Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe) to come to South Africa. However, my attention was never altered from every scene.
FILM RATING (B+)