A Dry White Season | Chicago Reader

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First-rate agitprop about the ruthlessness of South African apartheid, directed by Euzhan Palcy (Sugar Cane Alley) and adapted from Andre Brink's novel by Palcy and Colin Welland. Like Cry Freedom and A World Apart, this 1989 film concentrates on white rebels in South Africa, but it goes substantially further in its depiction of black oppression, and of violence in particular, which makes it the most powerful of the three. Donald Sutherland stars as a liberal but blinkered schoolteacher who gradually becomes radicalized after a series of brutal events affecting his gardener that eventually splits his family apart. Susan Sarandon plays a sympathetic journalist, and Marlon Brando, in a juicy comeback cameo that evokes Orson Welles's Clarence Darrow impersonation in Compulsion, plays an antiapartheid lawyer. The relentless plot is effectively set up and expertly pursued, and Hugh Masekela makes some striking contributions to Dave Grusin's musical score. With Janet Suzman, Jürgen Prochnow, and Zakes Mokae. R, 97 min.

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