- Director: Anthony Fabian
- Based on the book When She Was White by Judith Stone
- Cast: Sophie Okonedo, Sam Neill, Alice Krige, Ella Ramangwane
- Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
- Sophie Okonedo – The Slap, Hotel Rwanda, Dirty Pretty Things, Go Now
- Sam Neill - Little Fish, The Dish, Jurassic Park, The Piano
- Why bought: Cheap. Sophie Okonedo
- Seen: June 2, 2013
Genetics is fascinating and sometimes mysterious. In a racist society it can be dangerous and heartbreaking. In South Africa’s apartheid it surpasses absurd.
Sandie is born to white parents. She is, though not extremely dark, clearly black. Her mother accepts her lovingly without too much question. Her father insists fanatically, relentlessly, that she is white, going through all kinds of rigmarole in the bizarre South African courts to get the word “white” stamped on her papers. He is, in fact, as racist as the rest and can never quite let go of the niggling suspicion that his wife has been unfaithful with a black man. Until, perhaps, their third child is also a light-skinned black baby. Recessive genes, explains the scientist at one of the hearings. All whites in South Africa have them, he says. Not a popular claim.
Young Sandie is forced to go to an all white school though of course she is ostracized and hated. She is forced by her father to date white boys who treat her with contempt. It’s no surprise that she falls in love with a black neighbor. When she becomes pregnant she is thrown out of her home and joins her man in his township. From a white petit bourgeois family she becomes part of a black South African ghetto.
The years pass, the heartache and alienation continue. Sandie is always an outsider.
Sophie Okonedo is a powerful actress. The whole case is strong. The film gives an excellent insight into the absurdity of apartheid in everyday situations where explosive hateful racism is always present.
It’s a difficult film to watch. But also very gripping. See it.
5 * of 5