Volume 94, Issue 1
Friday, May 12, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
I Dreamed of Africaoffers one hell of a sedative
Photo by Egon Endrenyi
I Dreamed of Africa
Starring: Kim Basinger, Vincent Perez
Directed By: Hugh Hudson
By Rebecca Morier
The symptoms that occur after viewing I Dreamed of Africa are the same as waking from a dream lots of yawning, fogginess and the desire to go back to sleep.
While the story itself is captivating, the telling of the story is often clumsy and weak. Even the film's most redeeming qualities are not strong enough to do adequate justice to the telling of the true story on which the film is based.
Kim Basinger plays Kuki Gallmann, a woman who experiences an epiphany after surviving a jarring car accident that leaves her feeling as if she's been given a second chance to make something of her rather mundane existence. Newly married to Paolo Gallmann, (Vincent Perez) who was also in the fateful accident and in need of a fresh start, Kuki takes a chance on love and abandons her life of privilege in Italy to experience the majesty and mystery of Kenya.
Kuki experiences initial feelings of freedom at the lush power of the African landscape, but later gains a sense of respect and duty to the land and its inhabitants. What ensues is a saga of hardships from destructive storms and the threat of predatory animals to domestic and familial concerns after which Kuki inevitably emerges as resilient and more "alive."
In what comes off as a cross between the ruggedness of Discovery Channel wildlife programs and the slickness of digitally-manipulated cinescapes, I Dreamed Of Africa often treads into cliched filmmaking with landscape shots accompanied by a soaring score in a tired attempt to wow the audience.
Basinger and Perez put forward decent performances, impeded only by occasional awkward scripting and voice-overs which create a disjointed effect in the film. The film is technically weak, with moments of clumsy editing and obvious errors in continuity.
The musical score, however, provides a sense of development that other aspects of the film lack. It progresses smoothly from contemporary sounds while set in Italy to the haunting tribal rhythms of Africa. Visually, the shift in aesthetics to the Kenyan wilderness is welcome, since the harsh lighting and series of close-to-mid-range shots glaringly set up the urban-city contrast that viewers have come to expect from films of this genre.
At just under two hours, I Dreamed of Africa leaves much of its plot underdeveloped and even more unexplained. While the film offers some memorable scenes and breathtaking moments, these are few and far between. What results is a rather bland telling of a story filled with holes, much like an incoherent, therefore meaningless, dream.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000