At First Glance: “Nina”

Another year, another trailer for an upcoming biopic. The only difference, this one is seriously marred in controversy and major setbacks. Not a good way to start off a marketing campaign, especially when the final film could go either way. It could all be for not.

The upcoming RLJ Entertainment film “Nina”, looks like it has potential, but I can’t even be certain of that.

This biopic stars Zoe Saldana (upcoming “Star Trek Beyond”, “The Book of Life”), David Oyelowo (“Star Wars Rebels”, “Captive”), and Mike Epps (upcoming series “Uncle Buck (2016)”, “Fifty Shades of Black”).

It is written and directed (feature film debut) by Cynthia Mort (“Tilda”, “The Brave One).

The film is set to open in theaters on April 22, 2016 and on Video on Demand (VOD).
I’ve actually, that I can recall, not heard anything about this. Not even the controversies that once again surround this film. I won’t touch on those as I don’t even know yet what to believe. Okay, I’ll sort of touch on one now, but only this. I just think it’s a shame, that once again, an actress (I’m sure there’s been actors) is being criticized for not being dark enough or being the exact ethnicity. Yeah, it’s dumb. Moving on. I’m a bit more intrigued by this film than I thought I would be and I’m excited to see more footage and hear interviews as a lead up to the film’s release. It could be good, or it could suck big time.

I’m intrigued mostly, as this film is showing a complicated and fascinating woman. I don’t think it’s simply that she didn’t take care of herself, and tried to find any way to deal, which is what it looks like in the trailer. It’s that and everything else in her life that inspired her and damaged her. And I’m guessing this all from the trailer and the time this film will be encompassing. It’s also where I think we’ll learn so much about her, both personally and musically.

All of that said, I can’t actually tell if this will be a good film. I do believe that this could easily be the best role Saldana’s ever had. It’s also one that really requires her to dig deep and bring forth a stellar performance. Sure she’s been great in other films, but most of those films were action heavy, and had very little focus on the kind of deep character she’ll need in this film. For me, it’s this and the fact that I’ve actually seen so few of her more serious roles. It’s not a bad place to start and may fully bring me over to her side as a fan.

However, of the few questions I have, will Saldana’s performance, as well as Oyelowo’s and Epps’, make this a good film? Will it just be some slow burn biopic where you get bored halfway through, if not before? Not all biopics are good or interesting, which is an interesting thought all on its own. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I also realized this question applies to Mort, more so as she wrote the film. If she fails as a writer, it’ll translate in the performances and final film.

Another thing we’ll have to wait and see, is Saldana the right choice? I just mean from an actor and acting standpoint. Who were the other women considered? Could one of them have done better? That’s all I want to know. It’s all we ever want to know about characters in biopics or adaptations, even some original films too. Sometimes we wonder this before the film shoots and after we see footage. Take Julianne Moore in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part I and II”, as President Coin. She did great, but when I read that Jodie Foster was being considered, I was amazed at this. She would’ve been great as President Coin! So, will her performance prove enough that she was a good choice, or did she take on too much?

Not all biopics are created equal. In some ways you’d think this would be the case, but that depends on the subject. Some people’s lives or portions of their lives don’t make for interesting films. It’s just how it is. And then, some of it depends on the writer. If you don’t have a competent writer, you’ll get a decent film, but you won’t get one that shows it was worth dragging out the subjects complicated and fascinating life for all to see. If we had wanted to know more, perhaps we’d have picked up a book, or watch the one hour program on History or Bravo, or whatever network does biographies on famous people.


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