Nina (2016) Poster

(I) (2016)

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4/10
I was not impressed by this film's portrayal of Nina's life, her music and her importance in history.
maripere9525 April 2016
Nina Simone was a huge public figure in the black civil rights movement and one of the most popular jazz musicians of all time. She remains to this day very influential and unique. This film managed to capture none of it. It decides to focus entirely on her romantic relationship with her assistant during the last years of her life and - even though it does address her mental health issues and her problems with showbiz - it briefly skims over all the good and important influence she had over culture and music. Zoe Saldana may have been able to pull off her demeanour while in daily life, however her 'on stage' performances were underwhelming. I don't have a problem with her doing her own singing while impersonation an actual person, because a voice-over would probably not have worked well, however, Zoe's auto-tuned performance failed to capture the spirituality, strength and powerful presence that Nina had. Obviously, no one can be as good a Nina as Nina was, but if I didn't know who Nina Simone was before this movie, I certainly would not have cared about her afterwards. Overall, I was not impressed by this film's portrayal of Nina's life, her music and her importance in history. If you want a better portrayal of Nina, watch What Happened, Miss Simone (her documentary) or listen to her actual music.
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5/10
Wafer fin, badly chosen time period.
Avwillfan8928 November 2016
After the big hoo-ha about how bad this film is, in particular because of Zoe Saldana's casting, I decided to give this movie a shot.

I know virtually nothing about Nina Simone's life, but this film does not want to portray what her life was during her prime. Instead it relies on itty bitty pieces of dialogue during interviews and conversations with Nina's old friend Richard Pryor. It is set during the last decade of her life, when she is mentally ill, unstably alcoholic and very difficult to tolerate. Clifton (David Oyelowo), the nurse at the mental hospital where she is interred, takes her in, looks after her and eventually becomes her manager.

The real problem with this movie is, glaringly, the time period of Nina's life. It's not a good one, and very little happens in the movie. We start her off as a little girl defying racial segregation so that her parents can sit in the front row. Nothing else is shown of her rise to fame and struggles, which makes the film feel very empty.

One thing I really didn't like is the erasure of Clifton's homosexuality. Although he and Nina are not seen intimate with each other (at one point she calls him the F word when he refuses to have sex with her) there is a small implication. Why couldn't they show everyone he was gay?

The last thing is of course Zoe Saldana as Nina. I personally feel the criticism (and it was extremely scornful) was very unfair. She did the best with what she was given, and she should be praised for it. The problem is not the color of her skin, its the age. She is supposed to be in her sixties, and yet Saldana is actually younger than David Oyelowo! They really couldn't find an older actress?

At times the movie was painfully boring, badly paced and perhaps unintentionally funny. 5 out 10.
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1/10
An injustice to Nina Simone's legacy
atotheron7727 April 2016
Everything you wouldn't want to see in a film about Nina Simone. While Zoe Saldana might get a C+ for effort, one wonders if there were any mirrors anywhere on set or if she figured CGI would fix her appearance; although, the problems with this abysmal film are greater than Zoe's horrific makeup. The story is disjointed and focuses on absolutely arbitrary parts of Nina's life. There is no depth or realness to Cynthia Mort's vision of Nina and - considering the subject matter - that's an injustice. It could be considered an accomplishment that Mort was able to create a film about Nina Simone that leaves the viewer feeling nothing at all. Perhaps the worst part of the film is how ugly they made Nina. While she might not have been what's considered conventionally pretty, Nina possessed an elegant beauty that was a powerful part of her performance. Nina Simone was a beautiful woman and to turn her into a creature from the blackface lagoon in a biopic is unforgivable.
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4/10
Not at All Satisfying
twotrybe23 April 2016
I came in with expectations about this film. They weren't particularly high but what I did expect was to a lesser degree the music and vocal styling. Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone missed that mark completely. Unlike Jamie Fox in Ray where he magnificently captured Ray Charles's vocal patterns and musical style, you get none of this with Saldana's Nina. In fact, it doesn't transport you away at all. It's an unpleasant look into Nina's last years of her life, one that you do not wish to fully examine. And then there is the makeup that was applied to Zoe Saldana. It was not a visual look that was welcomed. I don't know if they were trying to capture Nina's appearance but this too was flawed and I go back to Jamie Fox role as Ray. Maybe Zoe Saldana was the wrong choice although I do see her being credited as one of the producers along with David Oyelowo who also has a role in this so maybe this was more of a vanity thing because they did it and figured it was easier for her to play the role. the other thing that bothered me was that they kept jumping from one era to another without any consistency. It was a visual headache to the story that just didn't fit. This was tough to watch.
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1/10
An offence to the legacy of Nina
slcoolj6622 April 2016
I have been waiting for this project to be made for the last 10 years, ever since I saw Ray. My expectations were high due to the success and talent Nina Simone had.

I thought there would be no way in hell this film could go wrong. I was very excited to hear Mary J was going to play Nina because it was important like Ray that the actor was able to sing.

This was certainly not the case. All I want to know is, why their was such a rush to make a great project into such a bad movie? And the rush of filming was quickly noticed in this film. Lack of love and effort and talent.

Put all these actors together and it doesn't come close to Simone's talent. That for me says it all about this movie.

I cant say the same for the movie Ray with Jamie Fox and the countless talents played in that film, while also Ali, The Help and Seven Years a Slave. All films that portrait The struggles of the African American Movement.

Nina should have been a TV Special!

I only hope that like the new Marilyn project this disaster will be remade in a year from now with casting directors that choose to wear glasses when picking the actors. Every actors in this movie were made to play shadow roles and they do them well. Please keep them there!
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4/10
An uninteresting depiction of mental illness.
tomofsweden31 October 2016
Nina

Yet another film of a famous person that in reality is just an excuse to show off mental illness. In this case the bipolar condition of Nina Simone.

The film assumes that the viewer already is familiar with her life. I wasn't. I only knew her by having heard a couple of her songs. The start of the film rushes ahead through her life to the very end of her life. But it doesn't start at the end and show flash backs. Well... sort of. It was mostly just a confusing mess and I had no clue what her career was like up to the end (where the film begins). The first concert she does is in a small bar. So as a viewer I'm like, OK, so this is the kind of concerts she had. And then I'm told she is one of the most famous singers. OK, so why is she in a small bar performing if she is so famous? And then somebody says that she should be in a huge concert hall, and not in a small bar. And I'm like, yes, so why isn't she? Please tell me, the viewer. No information.

The film revolves around her (non-romantic) relationship with her nurse/assistant/manager. This is uninteresting. It never goes anywhere and there's very little tension. I suspect it's just badly acted. David Oyelowo plays the assistant. I had never heard of him. So I looked him up. He has a long career of so-so stuff. So he doesn't seem particularly talented. He seems to be established as a middling talent. So it's an odd casting. It seems to me like he just didn't have what it took to make this role work.

Zoe Saldana plays Nina Simone. This is also not particularly interesting. But I don't think it's the acting that's the problem this time. I suspect the problem here is the script. A string of scenes showing a crazy person doing crazy things is not interesting. This is not a comedy. The craziness has to be coupled with her being sensible sometimes. There has to be some sort of balance. Nina Simone in this film goes from being disturbingly weird to being bouncing-off-the-walls-in-a-padded-cell- crazy. She's impossible to like. But she's famous for being a musical genius. She created amazing music and trail-blazed against all odds and conquered the world. This is not shown in this film. Nina Simone in this film is just nuts with no redeeming qualities. It's the stuff that made her famous that I'm interested in. This film provides none of it.

They use the "Angry Black Woman" trope to it's fullest extent. Sure, Nina Simone does have ample reason to be angry. But this character seems utterly consumed by it. It's like she has nothing else going for her in her life.

It would be nice with a film about a historical black person that doesn't focus on how much a victim he or she is. I'm not saying that black people historically haven't suffered. What I'm saying is that, by looking at the movies produced focusing on black people, black history seems to be defined by being a victim and nothing else. I'm starting to find this tedious. And in this film it's especially obvious, since her talents are so down-played. It's all about Nina, the crazy victim.

I learned almost nothing about Nina Simone's music career.
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3/10
Sorry Nina ....
plheidinger8 May 2016
Probably only 25 minutes that I'm watching this biopic about one of my idols:Nina Simone -> "What a bad television film"."A disaster" ... Zoe Saldana, clearly not up to the character! The allusions to Nina; a revolutionary musician are too few"... I don't care about Mrs Simone torments at the end of her life ! Mostly her relationship with her domestic/manager. (If at least it was "done properly). Plus, all the reproductions of her interviews and concerts : "We do not talk about it "... The film budget is what? $ 200 or something ... Roughly speaking, this full-length feature is a flop ... Let's watch a good documentary :)
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8/10
Zoe did Excellent - Critics Too Harsh
grandevas26 April 2016
Zoe Saldana did an excellent job, she did capture Nina's essence. Perhaps the story is fictional, and the nurse bit is quite a liberty, however, Zoe helps to bring Nina to a new generation. Her makeup is appropriate, it is not offensive. She gives a nuanced and fine performance. Sometimes it is nice to see a softer more human side of someone known in many ways as a "Militant Icon." Great job Zoe. We get to see hints of Nina's weakness in her dealings at the hospital and the human effects of having to be a strong presence during her trials and tribulations. For those who call Zoe's makeup ugly what is ugly about it? I think some of the fictional liberties are fun, I like the romantic soap opera version of Nina, moments of the lighter spirit and times. Nina is beautiful as is Zoe.
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8/10
think for yourself
Hellmouth_Kid30 April 2016
All the people who hate on the film are just sheep. They follow other people's opinions and criticism and are completely contradictory to what NIna Simone stands for. If she were alive she would kick your ass for being stupid. The film may not be perfect but the tone of it makes my heart warmer. Adding wonderful music to that and the score you have a wonderful musical combination, 'cause that's what this film was supposed to be about. So go on, hate, that's all you can do.

As far as Zoe is concerned, she is one of the most underrated actresses of our generation so it was easy for her to relate to the whole situation. She did her best knowing she would get attacked randomly for being creative and wanting to portrait a complex woman on so many level. I say thumbs up to Ms Seldana for delivering and presenting a yet another wonderful performance in her career.
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1/10
A Confusing Tribute to Nina Simone
jasminsophiaw20 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film with a little bit of hesitation given the controversy given the casting of Saldana, but I do not want to make too much comment on that as I think at this point it is evident that it was an inappropriate choice. The black-face aside... it was a very confusing choice, given that the film focuses mainly on the last decade or so of Nina Simone's life and neither Saldana nor the makeup applied to her were convincing as a sixty or seventy year old woman.

The film also had a very poor screenplay, and I took issue with it's treatment of Nina Simone as a woman with mental illness, it really lacked subtlety and relied very heavily on clichéd ideas about mental illness which I don't think reflect Nina Simone as a person. In fact, I think the entire film missed the mark in capturing the essence of Nina Simone.

And, finally, and by far the most disappointing, the music! Well... the music was OK, whoever the band were did a decent job. But Saldana's strained singing was terrible.

The movie was boring at best, and offensive at worst. It was a horrible disappointment.
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8/10
Nina Delivers.
gpknopp13 May 2016
Nina delivers, with some awesome music. Did it capture Nina's spirit accurately? I don't know, but this film inspired me, unlike most Hollywood tripe these days. It's a simple script about two people who revere each other in an almost supernatural way, sometimes parent/child, sometimes sibling.

This is a movie about spiritual struggle and expression of that struggle through music, and is not suitable for children. But it's honest, and whether or not it was true to Nina Simone's spirit, I don't know. But Zoe Saldana is, perhaps, her own elemental force, with a sense for rhythm that is genius and gentle and lots of good things. This movie has some stirring music that is never unpleasant to listen to, and, at times, is a bit sparse.

Is the movie true, at least, in it's message that our personal salvation is found in how we love one another? More directly, I thought that this movie directed our attention away from racism towards social taboos against relationships that are none of the above.
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5/10
Mediocrity at it's very worse
subxerogravity22 April 2016
So, I'll try to not include the controversy I heard about Star Trek's Zoe Saldana, playing the Infamous Nina Simone, although that's what made me interested in buying the ticket.

Overall, Saldana's performance was just OK. It's not the worse thing I've ever seen, it's not the best performance I've ever seen. It's not a milestone in her acting career, unlike her co-star David Oyelowo's magnificent turn as Doctor Martian Luther King Jr. in the movie, Selma. Mike Epps made an interesting cameo as Richard Pryor in the movie which left me something more than Saldana as Simone.

Nina is a focus on the last eight or so years of Simone's life, which was odd as Saldana (and the make up job they did on her) did not convince me she was a 70 year old woman. Mainly, it centers around the relationship Nina had with her new manager, Clifton Henderson.

It's another one of these films that tells us more about the type of personality the artist is rather than anything about the person's life. It's similar to Don Cheadle's take on Miles Davis in the film Miles Ahead, but that film had some magic in it that this movie does not.

Saldana and the film did an OK job letting us know the type of artist Nina Simone was, but you did not feel the passion behind it. I know it's near impossible to create a motion picture about Nina that would visually do what Simone could do with her musical talents, but I did not feel any effort towards it at all.

So overall, at the moment Saldana still has playing the most ionic woman in Sci-Fi on the top of her resume, while playing the greatest singer of all time will not even register. The make-up was fine and her voice was satisfying, but like I said I was not expected her to sound like Nina Simone, but this movie is not passionate like her music.
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10/10
Zoe did great
Veritas996 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I just have seen the movie and I also have read a lot of debates around it. In my opinion, all that "Zoe is not black enough"seems unbelievable - so many actors are using make-up and prosthetics when playing biopics and none was creating such debate. Due to this movie I discovered Nina Simone ( I honestly was not familiar with her music before), I watched a lot of Nina's songs after the movie, and appreciated a lot her music . I also liked a lot how Zoe interpreted the song "Black is the color" minute 35 of the movie) - I have seen all youtube versions interpreted by various artists but Zoe's is the best in my opinion. Yes, Zoe performed, it's mentioned ... I am sorry that this well done biopic was transformed in a political debate...art should be above this.
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1/10
absolute rubbish
michelle_kummer24 April 2016
Do not waste your time watching this film. Nina Simone was a legend and one of my favorite artists still to date. I was looking so forward to seeing this film and was disappointed within 5 minutes of the movie starting. Zoe Saldana should never have agreed to do this film as it has certainly changed my thoughts on her acting ability. Beyonce, or Mary J Blige, even Rhianna should been cast! At least these woman have the ability to sing! I also think that the film should have shown more about her life, it was so damn boring i barely stayed awake. See anything else but this rubbish! Ray was a much better film, as at least Jamie Foxx could sing!
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1/10
Modern Day Blackface
banditosmeredith24 April 2016
Before you accuse me of being a social justice warrior, just try watching the first 10mins of this movie. Casting is not the only crime committed by movie (although it is hard to look past) but pacing, storytelling and overall cinematic quality fall to represent Mrs. Nina Simone.

This movie does not portray the elegance in her artistry or why she mattered. This movie will forever be remembered for MODERN DAY BLACKFACE.

I was half expecting an apology to Nina Simone and her family before the end credits.

How is this movie sitting at 5 out of 10 stars?

Shame on you Hollywood
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9/10
Beautifully done
cekadah7 May 2016
A very touching presentation on the last eight years of Nina Simone's creative but turbulent life. We learn about her past through a few flashbacks and her dialog. Zoe Saldana gives a fine interpretation of Nina Simone the person and her climb into a successful popular singer and slow frustrating slide back into near obscurity.

Everything in this movie may not be exactly true but then the movie doesn't tell us everything about Nina Simone's past either.

Director/writer: Cynthia Mort wants to show us Nina as a creative spirit caught in a black woman's body at a time when being black, female, talented, and beautiful may have opened a few doors but the struggle to bring beauty and soul freely into this society was full of road blocks, speed bumps, and potholes. Zoe Saldana being beautiful herself brings a touching and emotional Nina to life.

Nina struggled with substance abuse problems and spells of mental illness. Her need to sing is brought to the surface here and Zoe becomes Nina and the spirit of Nina shines. This is a fine and wonderful film.
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8/10
Make up issue only
young-erika6519 January 2019
I finally decided to watch this movie. Mixed reviews. Dear God Nina Simone was MEAN. Had no idea she was bipolar, which One of the best Actresses in the World Zoe Saldana protested her well. Despite the awful make up . That artist that did the make up should be blacklisted. Disgusting!! The rest of the movie I could tell was quite surprisingly moderately good. Because the message to Me is how Someone who is famous deals with having mental issues. Which we all know and come to realize so many people especially entertainers have spoken out about their struggles. None of us are exempted from having these issues. Therefore I will give Zoe much praise for being for trying her hardest as being phenomenal protesting Nina Simone despite the the criticism of the skin tone issue. I have no regrets finally watching this film. 🙏🏼 Prayers to all who suffer with a Mental illness.
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1/10
Issa No from me
icevirgo994 March 2018
I feel like there was so much about Nina that was left to be told that they didn't tell us. I think not having her family involved was a mistake because it clearly shows in the depth of the story telling in this. This just failed on all fronts.
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5/10
Why This Misses the Mark?
issaconeilmason19 January 2017
I gave this movie a 5 because of Zoe Saldana's amazing performance. Should an actress with darker skin have portrayed her...yes? It was part of Nina Simone's identity, but Ms. Saldana was chosen and she did a great job.

I love biographical films. A truly amazing bio flick should either highlight an important time in the artist's life or it should summarize perfectly the life lived in 2 hours. This movie truly fails. Recently, I saw a documentary of Nina Simone's life and it is a very complicated history with lots of stories to tell. Why did this movie decide to highlight this part of her life? It makes no sense. With all of the limited series on television now days, I would love there to be a series that highlights an artist for 10 episodes. Nina Simone deserves that type of treatment.

I say watch this movie if you want 90 minutes of listening to Nina Simone's greatest hits.
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6/10
Okay it wasn't bad...
velvetnightmare6908 September 2016
Look this film was actually moving and hit some actually good notes. Being a fan of Nina and Zoe Saldana, this movie caught my interest. And despite the controversy, I thought I would end up disliking this movie like the Aaliyah or Whitney biopic. But this had substance, music, and felt organic. The only downfalls are 1) Zoe Saldana looks NOTHING like Nina Simone. There are rare instances in some scenes where I can see it-- But no matter how amazing of an actress Zoe Saldana is she is too thin, her skin color is shades different from how Nina's looked, and her face just a bit like a costume instead of a believable human being. It took away a significant amount of believability. This hurts me to say this, because again I love Zoe and Nina. 2) No matter how much substance this movie has, a lot of it becomes void, based on the fact that Nina's life centered around a dark black skinned woman and her struggles. Being dark skinned is a central part of Nina's being and story. It minimizes her journey to cast a light skinned actress who barely resembles her. I personally feel Whoopi Goldberg or Viola Davis would've been much more suited for this role. That would have created a much more believable on-screen illusion for me to get lost in as a viewer.

Overall. Flaws aside, this film does have a little bit of substance. It's not as bad as Lifetime's terrible attempt at the Aaliyah or Whitney movie-- but it isn't as good at 'What's Love Got to Do With It?' or 'Crazy Sexy Cool- the TLC Story'

I hope this review helps
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7/10
Very Gifted Actress Zoe
kafaye-8675513 November 2016
Zolanda portrayed Nina so well. I saw the documentary of Nina on Netflix after media and critics expressed how Zoe and her complexion wasn't the best choice for the movie. You could tell she was painted in some scenes, but for the most part Zoe did an awesome impression of Nina in this movie. The posture, movement of mouth, mannerism, OMG and the scene where she received the clipping, necklace and tape from a fans daughter from the United States was so moving. Whomever it was on that tape sounded damn good!The scene of her dancing during the closing credits should've been left out and the last scene of her performing after returning to the United States could've had some more of Nina mannerism in it.Good movie and it kept me engaged through out the entire showing of it!!
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6/10
The belittlement of angelizing
sithembisomkhize-1862919 August 2019
Wonderful Life and wonderful personality, Nina Simone was. I felt like the storyteller was too much of a fan of Nina (well who can blame her, and who isnt). The problem with this is if you are an obsessive fan of someone, you tend to tell a bias story, it is more a justification of how she lived rather than an open-minded retelling. Zoe saldana tried to carry this movie, but I think her casting in this role is questionable. A Lauryn Hill would have been a fit. This ends up being more of a story about Nina and her nurse/friend Clifton Henderson. A lot of her history has been left out, including her wilding days inc her mortifying moments e.g. what she once did on stage. This attempt at angelizing her ends up being a belittlement.
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1/10
I love all these people but couldn't stand this movie
funismyname8 April 2019
Several hack writers have versions of this script passing around hoping foolish producers will get caught up in their love for Nina Simone's music and overlook how complicated it is to tell her story. In all fairness, not every amazing artist had an amazing or inspiring life. I believe Nina Simone is one of those artists. And yet, my love for her music compelled me to watch this film. I also think Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo are terrific actors. However, Zoe's blackface made me curl up inside myself and I wanted to shrivel away. None of the music is Nina's either. Sure Zoe can sing, but she doesn't compare vocally to Nina Simone at all. Nina was just better. So I couldn't look at Zoe Saldana and I didn't want to hear her perform either.. To get back to where I began, several hack writers have scripts to sell about Nina Simone. None are good. This script is one of those, written by an unaccomplished TV writer who began with a small handful of episodes of Roseanne. I feel strongly that Nina Simone should remain a beautiful, talented musician and singer, and that's how she's best remembered. Watching any story about her life only cheapens the best of what she was. Same goes for Marvin Gaye and many other musicians. Their music inspires us, not their private lives.
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3/10
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Prismark1015 July 2018
Zoe Saldana blacks up to play the difficult, volatile and fiery Nina Simone. Nina took no prisoners and there are people still alive who have the shrapnel wounds to prove it.

This film never gets a handle on its subject, it really is all over the place. It sets up to its story from the point of view of Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo) the psychiatric nurse who becomes her assistant and later her manager.

Henderson has a difficult task caring for a diva with mental health issues, money problems, a bad reputation and a voice that is losing its edge. Promoters do not make money from her, clubs do not want to book her and audiences refuse to stay silent when she sings.

Director Cynthia Mort had her work cut out to make Nina a sympathetic figure despite her support for the civil rights movement. Nina did not want sympathy when she was alive. Nina would sometimes go on stage and wind up the audience by not singing her greatest hits. Apparently Mort did not have the final cut to this film but what we have is a disappointing bio-pic.
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6/10
Refuge in a bottle
nogodnomasters14 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is a biography of Nina Simone, alcoholic, drug user and occasional singer by this biopic. The film opens in 1946 at age 13 she gives a recital. Her name was not Nina (Zoe Saldana) at that time. She had changed it so her family would not be embarrassed by her profession. The film picks up later after she tries to shoot a man in 1985, not 1995 as the film wrongly states. It moves forward with her struggle with alcohol and relationship with Clifton (David Oyelowo) with minor flashbacks.

The acting was great, unfortunately the editing and script left much to be desired. It concentrated too much on her demons and little to nothing on her music. One would argue that was in intent, but they missed an opportunity to make a truly entertaining film.

Guide: F-word. Implied sex. Minor rear nudity.
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